Matt Breida was surpassed as the 49ers’ primary running back in 2019 by Raheem Mostert.
But there’s no reason to believe Breida won’t get his mojo back in 2020.
Breida, a restricted free agent, re-signed Thursday for a one-year deal with the 49ers worth about $3.1 million and will return to the 49ers backfield for his fourth season in 2020.
After signing as an undrafted free agent in 2017, Breida carried 105 times for 465 yards as a rookie. He then took a huge step up in 2018, rushing for 814 yards and three touchdowns on 153 carries, averaging 5.3 yards per attempt.
But in 2019, his carries fell to 123 and he gained just 623 yards and scored one TD, yet still averaged 5.1 yards per carry. With the ball in his hands, Breida “The Cheetah” is still quick and elusive. And, in two of the 49ers’ first four games this past season he had big days. He rushed for 121 yards in a win over the Bengals in Week 2 and 114 yards in a victory over the Browns in Week 4.
But as the season progressed and Mostert emerged, Breida had to deal with some minor injuries and his playing time declined.
In the 49ers’ Week 14 victory over the Saints, he carried just six times, but gained 54 yards. The next week, he had just four attempts for 11 yards. Against the Rams in Week 15 he didn’t get a single carry. Against Seattle in the season finale, he had just four carries for 16 yards. Then, over three postseason games, Breida had just nine carries for 19 yards – with no attempts at all in the Super Bowl.
After the Rams game when Breida didn’t carry the ball once, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan didn’t indicate Breida was hurt.
“We didn’t go in not planning for him to not have any plays on offense,” Shanahan told the media after that game. “It just worked out that way.”
Now, after the emergence of Mostert and with Tevin Coleman, Jerick McKinnnon and Jeff Wilson Jr. on the roster, Breida will be back in the mix to be a prime ball carrier in 2020 – or, perhaps, become trade bait.
Certainly, there’s a market for a quick back who’s shown he can be a playmaker in the NFL when he’s healthy. And, the 49ers want more picks.
Last month, Matt Barrows of The Athletic wrote he believes the 49ers are likely to trade Breida before or during the NFL draft for a “mid-round draft pick.”
The first round of the draft is set for April 23.