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Elijah Mitchell, 49ers running game set for a mammoth year, according to Peter King

King expects mammoth year for Mitchell, 49ers running game originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

Heading into Tuesday’s roster reduction deadline, all eyes are on the 49ers as they make a decision on Jimmy Garoppolo’s future.

But once the season starts, the backfield behind starting quarterback Trey Lance will turn heads.

In his weekly “Soccer morning in AmericaNBC Sports’ Peter King writes that he expects big things from the 49ers’ talented running back group.

“The Niners will enter the season wanting to bring in Trey Lance slowly, so Kyle Shanahan will make a game plan to protect him,” King wrote. ‚ÄúThat could mean 55 percent running, especially early on. I would predict Elijah Mitchell to be the stalwart here with Trey Sermon as the active number two.

“Both of them will have big chances, and if Mitchell warms up early and stays healthy, he’ll be a 1,000-yard rusher in this offense.”

Mitchell reaching the 1,000-yard milestone is certainly not a stretch. As a rookie last season, Mitchell compiled 963 rushing yards and missed five games. He posted five contests with over 100 rushing yards.

However, the 55 percent run prediction is interesting.

With Garoppolo under center last season, the 49ers ran the ball 48.4 percent of the time, which ranked fourth in the NFL. No team ran the ball more than half the time in 2021, although three teams did so the year before: the Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans.

During coach Kyle Shanahan’s five years leading the San Francisco sideline, the 49ers’ highest rushing percentage was 51.4 percent in 2019, when the team appeared in Super Bowl LIV.

Raheem Mostert led the team in rushing that season with 772 yards, followed by Matt Breida (623) and Tevin Coleman (544).

In the Shanahan era, only one NFL team has surpassed the 55 percent mark on rushing plays: the 2020 Ravens with a 55.04 percent clip.

RELATED: Simms argues Jimmy G, The 49ers are better together

Sermon, brought in by King to serve as the 49ers backup behind Mitchell, has a lot of competition in the position.

Jeff Wilson Jr. returns from injury after leading the team in rushing two years ago. JaMychal Hasty also appears in the running back room, as does third-round pick Ty Davis-Price and undrafted rookie Jordan Mason.

The talent behind Lance is indisputable.

With Mitchell leading the way, the 49ers with a dominant running game would make Lance’s life easier as he faces the challenges of his first full season as the starting quarterback.

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