Dion Lewis has been a nice piece of the Patriots offense since being acquired in 2015.
But now the running back, 27, is expected to become an unrestricted free agent, and there’s speculation the 49ers might be a very attractive landing spot.
Lewis isn’t an NFL star. He hasn’t ever rushed for 1,000 yards and isn’t mentioned in any discussions about the league’s best running backs. Yet Lewis, a quick and tough 5-foot-8, 195-pounder appears to be a good match with the Niners.
He’s played with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in New England, and so would be familiar to the team’s new offensive leader. And, he's a versatile back who can be extremely productive as a No. 2 behind Carlos Hyde (if he remains) or another No. 1 running back acquired this offseason.
Despite his size, Lewis is known as a fine pass blocker and is an excellent receiver. Over the past three seasons, Lewis has had 36, 17 and 32 receptions for five touchdowns. This past season also was a breakout year for Lewis as a rusher, too, gaining 896 yards — by far a career high — for 5.0 yards per carry and six TDs.
Mike Florio of NBC’s Pro Football Talk reported recently that the 49ers are a team that would likely be interested in Lewis, who "is expected to get serious consideration from multiple teams."
Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports reports as many as nine teams may want to go after Lewis, and projects he could command a deal worth about $6.5 million per year, up from his earnings of $1.2 million with the Pats in 2017.
Former Broncos running back Terrell Davis said on the NFL Network this week that Lewis’ best match is with the 49ers, considering head coach Kyle Shanahan used a couple of running backs in the Lewis mold to great effect with the Falcons a couple of seasons ago.
"Kyle Shanahan had that big, remarkable year in Atlanta," said Davis. "You had (Tevin) Coleman down there. You had (Devonta) Freeman. You put a guy like Dion Lewis in your offense, that really makes an offense explosive with Jimmy G. It’s just another weapon. Obviously, you have to go out there and get another running back to complement him, but I think Dion Lewis would fit nicely in San Francisco."