Kyle Shanahan wants an insurance policy. That policy’s name is Alfred Morris.
The veteran running back, 29, will sign with the 49ers, said Shanahan, to bolster a group that has been hit by injuries the past week. No. 1 back Jerick McKinnon suffered a calf strain in practice over the weekend and will sit out this week, the team says. No. 2 back Matt Breida suffered a separated shoulder in the exhibition game Thursday vs. Dallas and isn’t expected to be ready to play again until the regular-season opener on Sept. 9.
Now, the 49ers will add Morris, who played for Shanahan in 2012 and 2013 when he was offensive coordinator at Washington, to join a group that incudes Joe Williams, Raheem Mostert, Jeremy McNichols and Jeff Wilson Jr. for this week’s practices leading up to San Francisco’s exhibition game Saturday night in Houston vs. the Texans.
Morris, a free agent, spent the past two seasons with the Cowboys as the backup to starting running back Ezekiel Elliott.
“Alf did a great job for us for the two years I was with him,” Shanahan said, according to Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com. “It’s not flashy but he runs extremely hard, he’s very reliable, he’s a hard-nosed runner you can keep handing the ball off to.”
Morris had good seasons in Shanahan’s offense in Washington, rushing for 1,613 yards in 2012 and 1,275 yards in 2013.
Morris, who is 5-foot-10 and 224 pounds, had a good season in 2017 in a limited role for Dallas, carrying 115 times for 547 yards (a 4.8-yard average). Since rushing for 1,074 yards for Washington in 2014 when he went to the Pro Bowl, he’s played a more limited role in both Washington and Dallas. But, he’s a hard, physical runner who has a career average per carry of 4.4 yards.
Morris will need to pass a physical before he can sign with the team.
Shanahan says Morris is expected to participate in joint practices with the Texans this week, which would allow him to play in Saturday’s game.