The 49ers surprised the football world Sunday morning by rendering rookie running back Trey Sermon inactive for their season opener against the Lions.
Sermon was San Francisco’s third-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. He was listed as the top backup to Raheem Mostert on the team’s depth chart entering the Week 1 clash with Detroit. He was expected to form a solid one-two punch with Mostert after logging 16 carries for 63 yards during the preseason.
Instead, Sermon will find himself on the bench.
Why is Sermon not playing against the Lions? There’s apparently a simple reason for Kyle Shanahan’s decision.
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Why is Trey Sermon inactive for the 49ers in Week 1?
Sermon is a healthy scratch for the 49ers. He’s not dealing with an injury and didn’t suffer any last-minute COVID-related setbacks. So, it was a coach’s decision to keep Sermon on the bench.
It appears that the decision was related to Sermon’s special teams role — or lack thereof. Keiana Martin of 49ers.com noted that backups Elijah Mitchell and JaMycal Hasty will back up Mostert and play key special teams roles.
Trey Sermon’s NFL debut will have to take a backseat on Sunday as the running back is a healthy scratch for the season opener against the Detroit Lions. It’s likely, given their special teams roles, Raheem Mostert, Elijah Mitchell and JaMycal Hasty will share touches against Detroit.
Running backs often are key figures on special teams, so it’s no surprise to see Shanahan value that. Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see what Shanahan says about his decision to bench Sermon after the game.
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49ers RB depth chart 2021
Elijah Mitchell was a sixth-round pick of the 49ers in the 2021 NFL Draft. He played collegiately at Louisiana and posted at least 1,031 scrimmage yards in his last three seasons. He scored 46 total TDs during four collegiate seasons.
Mitchell totaled just 24 yards on six carries in the preseason, but the 5-10, 201-pound running back apparently impressed during training camp practice. He should have a chance to see some carries behind Mostert, as he and Hasty are listed equally as third-stringers on the 49ers depth chart.
JaMycal Hasty is a second-year back who played collegiately at Baylor. He played in eight games for the 49ers last year and totaled 148 rushing yards and a touchdown on 39 carries.
Hasty is 5-9 and 205 pounds. He played 62 special teams snaps for the 49ers in 2020 compared to 97 on offense. Needless to say, he’ll play a key role in that facet of the game and could be used as a change-of-pace option behind Mostert.
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