The 2021 NFL season may barely be in the books, but Dave Richard is already getting a jump on his 2022 preparation by highlighting at least one key statistic to know for each NFL team that had a major bearing on their 2021 performance and could mean a great deal for their 2022 outlook. In this space, Dave dives into the San Francisco 49ers.
More Early Prep (AFC): BAL | BUF | CIN | CLE | DEN | TEN | HOU | IND | JAC | KC | LAC | LV | MIA | NE | NYJ
More Early Prep (NFC): ARI | ATL | CAR | CHI | DAL | DET | GB | LAR | MIN | SEA | NYG | WAS | PHI | NO | TB | SF
San Francisco 49ers stats to know
Elijah Mitchell became a Fantasy hero last year with no warning. He was worth the waiver-add after Week 1 and finished 14th among running backs in PPR points per game (14.3) and ninth in 15-plus-point consistency rate (54.5%).
The knee-jerk reaction to his breakout year is to gravitate to him again because he was effective and because he's in one of the friendliest run-friendly offenses in football.
But if Mitchell leads the 49ers in rushing in 2022, he'd be the first running back to repeat under Kyle Shanahan's tutelage since Devonta Freeman in 2015-16.
Here are the 49ers rushing leaders since Shanahan was hired:
- 2021: Mitchell 207 attempts & 963 rush yards; Deebo Samuel eight rush TDs
- 2020: Jeff Wilson 126 attempts, 600 rush yards, seven rush TDs
- 2019: Tevin Coleman/Raheem Mostert tied 137 attempts, Mostert 772 rush yards & eight rush TDs
- 2018: Matt Breida 153 attempts, 814 rush yards, three rush TDs
- 2017: Carlos Hyde 240 attempts, 938 rush yards, eight rush TDs
It would be art if it didn't hurt the soul of so many Fantasy managers. It also is a serious warning sign as to the future value of Mitchell.
What information is out there to suggest Mitchell can buck the trend? Sadly, not much. Mitchell is young, but so were Breida and Wilson when they led the way for the Niners, and they couldn't hold up. Mitchell averaged a sweet 4.65 yards per carry, but Wilson in 2020 and Mostert in 2020 and 2019 were better than that. Even Mitchell's explosive run rate (10.1% of his career went 12-plus yards) were bested by Wilson in 2020 (10.3%) and Mostert in 2019 (12.4%).
San Francisco is a running back factory, but a fragile one. Mitchell suited up for 11 games last year, missing the other six with a combination of shoulder, rib, finger, head and knee issues. It goes without saying his success in 2022 will hinge on his health, but judging by his first year, the 200-pounder has an uphill battle.
It's enough to let someone else reach for Mitchell in Fantasy drafts ... and to target other 49ers running backs in the double-digit rounds.