San Francisco 49ers: Young players who prove future is bright

Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images /
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Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images
Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images /

RB Matt Breida (23)

I know everyone was excited about the signing of Jerick McKinnon this past offseason, and rightfully so. The human Swiss Army knife is an offensive force, and one that could do wonders for the 49ers somewhere down the road.

With McKinnon sidelined for the season following an ACL tear, though, Matt Breida was allowed to assume the starting role at running back. What ensued was a breakout season that confirmed to San Francisco that it’s got one of the most underrated weapons in the league lining up in its backfield.

Seriously, Breida has been a revelation this season. Especially with the injuries and issues at quarterback, the 49ers have often had to lean on the young runner to get the offense moving. To say that Breida has responded well would be an understatement. Reference the three 100-yard rushing games and 5.3 yards-per-carry average (4th best in the NFL) if you don’t believe me.

Even when he’s slowed on the ground, Breida puts his talents as a receiver to use. He’s hauled in 26 passes this season, turning them into 255 receiving yards and two scores.

Sure, the amount of touchdowns (six total) hasn’t been there, but that’s been a problem with the entire offense as a whole. Overall, the frequency of big plays Breida makes, the consistent yards he picks up on the ground and his relentless desire to win have helped the former undrafted free agent emerge as one of the 49ers’ building blocks for the future.