49ers: Could JaMycal Hasty secure the third-down running back role?

49ers (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)
49ers (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images) /

Can San Francisco 49ers rookie running back JaMycal Hasty secure the third-down role?

The San Francisco 49ers found plenty of success on the ground in 2019, but they didn’t do so riding the coattails of just one running back. Instead, it was a collection of backs that led the team to the success that they had.

Only the Baltimore Ravens finished with more rushing yards per game as the 49ers averaged a whopping 144.1 yards on the ground. Combine that with their stellar 4.6 yards per carry and league-leading 23 rushing scores and you have arguably the best ground attack in the NFL.

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And again, they accomplished this without a true bell-cow back. Rather, head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offensive scheming allowed the team to get the most out of players like Tevin Coleman, Raheem Mostert, Matt Breida, and even Jeff Wilson.

Perhaps no player shined more than Mostert who went from glorified special-teamer to the team’s lead back by the season’s end. And if Mostert could make that sort of meteoric rise in the 49ers offense, why can’t another unheralded running back do the same?

Enter JaMycal Hasty.

Don’t be surprised if JaMycal Hasty makes the 49ers’ roster.

Like Mostert, Hasty enters the league as an undrafted free agent after spending his college career at Baylor. Hasty never became a lead back with the Bears instead being used as part of a rotation all four years.

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Given the 49ers’ overwhelming depth at the positon, one might assume that Hasty would be a longshot to make the roster.

After all, Coleman and Mostert are locks and throw in the scrappy Wilson and a hopefully healthy Jerick McKinnon and there doesn’t seem to be much from for an undrafted rookie.

And perhaps that’s partially true. Perhaps Hasty shouldn’t be considered exactly “likely” to make the final 55-man roster. But there are plenty of reasons as to why he can as well.

While undersized at just 5-foot-8, 205 pounds, Hasty makes up for his smaller stature with impressive burst and breakaway speed. The Texas native also has impressive receiving skills and made a living on special teams while at Baylor.

Hasty is never going to be a lead back in the NFL. He simply doesn’t have the size, power, or balance to be able to handle 15+ carries per game at the running back position.

But that’s perfectly okay and it’s not the role he’ll be asked to fill either with the 49ers or another team. He’s strictly a third-down, pass-catching back who excels on special teams and wins coaching staffs over with his work ethic and hustle.

You can never have enough of those players on your team.

Hasty undoubtedly faces an uphill battle, but it isn’t impossible. For starters, there’s no guarantee that McKinnon is even healthy for the start of the season or in 2020 at all. If that’s the case, that wouldn’t only open a roster spot, but it would open up a role on offense.

Many expect McKinnon to take on that third-down role that he once played with the Minnesota Vikings. But if he can’t play, the team will need someone else to fill that role.

That player could be JaMycal Hasty.

At the very least, Hasty should have no trouble sticking around on the practice squad provided he could beat out fellow undrafted rookie Salvon Ahmed.

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Hasty’s path to the 55-man roster might not be an easy one, but if he could make the team, expect him to carve out a role in Shanahan’s offense before long.