It’s possible there could be no better fit for Kyle Shanahan’s offense than Tevin Coleman.
The former Atlanta Falcons running back signed with the 49ers this offseason and figures to be a multi-purpose player in Shanahan’s so-called positionless offense, where running backs, fullbacks, tight ends and wide receivers are moveable pieces.
Now, as the 49ers prepare for the scheduled opening of a two-day mandatory, full-squad minicamp Tuesday, the team is eager to see what Coleman can do. Coleman will be part of a backfield corps of versatile players along with Jerick McKinnon, Matt Breida and fullback Kyle Jusczczyk.
Coleman knows Shanahan’s system well, having experienced it under Shanahan in Atlanta, as did 49ers run-game coordinator Mike McDaniel and pass-game coordinator Mike LeFleur. So, to get Coleman was a boost for the offense for 2019, said McDaniel.
"That was the equivalent of a March Christmas because we hold him in such high regard," McDaniel told Joe Fann of the team’s website this week.
In 2016 with the Falcons (and under Shanahan), Coleman rushed for 520 yards and eight touchdowns and had 40 catches for 421 yards and three TDs. He averaged 6.3 yards every time he touched the ball.
In 2018, he had 1,076 yards from scrimmage and nine TDs. Like McKinnon and Breida, Coleman is a terrific receiver. A three-headed backfield rotation could keep the Niners offense fresh and energized while putting defenses on their heels defending possible mismatches.
"It’s safe to stay that this is the deepest backfield that I’ve ever been around," McDaniel told Fann.
Recently, Coleman told Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group that it’s been a comfortable switch to the 49ers offense – one he already knew so well – but it has a few more wrinkles than he saw in 2016.
"(Shanahan’s) definitely more creative than he was in Atlanta, everything he’s doing with the backs, tight ends and receivers," said Coleman.
How will Shanahan, McDaniel and LeFleur deploy all their resources, including Coleman?
That’s the challenge, says Juszczyk.
"I anticipate that you’re going to see a different guy shine each week," he said. "There’s so much skill in that room, there’s so much talent that I think it’s going to be hard to keep anyone off the field. It’s going to be hard to focus on just one guy.
"I think each week you’re going to see somebody different make a big play. … It’s going to be a lot of fun and I’m interested to see what Kyle does with us."