Why Trey Sermon can be great under Kyle Shanahan

Trey Sermon will be a star in Kyle Shanahan’s offense

By: Reese Nasser

The San Francisco 49ers drafted running back Trey Sermon with the 88th overall pick in the 2021 draft. Sermon was one of the most prolific running backs in college the last four years. He spent his first three collegiate seasons at Oklahoma, and then found his way to Ohio State. 

In his four seasons, Sermon was a workhorse back. Outside of the 2019 season where his year ended early due to injury, Sermon never had less than 116 rushing attempts. 

He finished his college career with one of the more impressive resumes seen in recent years. He ended with 29 touchdowns and 3432 yards from scrimmage. 

Sermon’s biggest fault was his ineffectiveness in the passing game. In his 45 games, he caught just 48 passes for 486 yards. Even with catching less than 50 passes, he still proved to be a playmaker once he got the ball in his hands, averaging just over 10 yards per receptions. 

Now with the San Francisco 49ers, Sermon may have fallen to the perfect team. In San Francisco Sermon won’t be looked at to be the number one back. That responsibility will fall to veterain running back Raheem Mostert. Mostert has solidified himself as an above-average back who is at his best when there is another capable player in the backfield. That is where Sermon will step in. 

It is rare where a player may have been drafted to the perfect organization. In Sermom’s case, he may be one of those lucky players that gets to experience that. Head coach Kyle Shanahan has proven to be someone who can fully utilize his players. He also seems to prefer to run a two-running back backfield. This could also land in Sermon’s favor. Sermon could become one of the next great NFL running backs while Shanahan is his head coach. Here’s why. 

Built for the Offense 

With how often this team utilizes the ground game, it would be difficult for a running back like Trey Sermon to not fit in with this unit. They run often and prefer running backs that can handle carrying the ball at a high rate. 

Sermon has proven to be capable of carrying the running back load for teams. He could shine in an offense such as San Fransiscos. They have brought the best out of most of the players in their backfield, and Sermon could be the next man up. 

49ers Run History 

The San Francisco 49ers have found their success by relying heavily on their run game. When eventual future QB1 Trey Lance takes the helm, the offense could look different, but that is not the case yet. 

With Jimmy Garappolo still leading the charge, the 49ers have played better when throwing less and forcing teams to stop the run. The best example of this is the 2019 NFC Championship game. Garappolo threw just eight passes but the 49ers scored 37 points. In this outing, the 49ers relied entirely on their run game. Raheem Mostert finished the game with 21 attempts, 220 rush yards, and four touchdowns. 

Could Become the RB1

The running back depth chart could be shuffled heading into week one. Mostert has appeared in 16 games just once in his career. He is coming off of a season where he was only able to play in eight games. 

This is where Sermon could step up. With his successful track record in college and ability to stay healthy, for the most part, the 49ers may turn the ball over to Sermon on a regular basis. A one-two punch consisting of Sermon and Mostert could break out into one of the top duos in the NFL. 

While Sermon wasn’t very effective in the pass game in college, that could change in the NFL. Shanahan could utilize him in a manner where they are able to play away from Sermon’s weaknesses and let him flourish at what he is good at. He plays physical and he plays big. He could become a long term solution for the 49ers at running back.

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