SANTA CLARA — Elijah Mitchell drifted into the left flat Monday, prepared to get a pass from quarterback Trey Lance throughout a purple zone drill on the 49ers’ 1st working day of padded tactics at schooling camp.
One dilemma: The 49ers’ defense, which has been ahead of the offense due to the fact camp opened, had the enjoy identified. Linebacker Dre Greenlaw was there, with an prospect to knock the 49ers’ jogging back into next week.
Given that it is training camp, Greenlaw simply designed positive the go was incomplete and spared Mitchell the destroy shot.
That did not occur often for Mitchell throughout a rookie period when as a sixth-spherical draft decide he led the 49ers in speeding with a franchise rookie report of 963 yards on 207 carries. In spite of getting 193 gamers picked before him (including 10 managing backs), Mitchell led all rookies with 80.3 yards for each game and concluded second only to Pittsburgh’s to start with-spherical selection Najee Harris (1,200 yards in 17 video games) in full hurrying.
If Mitchell have been a boxer, he’d be Joe Frazier, taking three shots to land 1 when constantly moving ahead. The 49ers speedily identified Mitchell, at 5-foot-10, 200 lbs, was adept at shifting the pile and turning a few yards into five. All those additional yards ended up crucial to the 49ers, but not essentially beneficial to Mitchell’s health and fitness.
Right after averaging 4.7 yards for every have in the common period, Mitchell located the heading rough in the postseason. He had 96 yards dashing versus Dallas but required 27 carries to get there. He concluded the 49ers’ three playoff games with 169 yards on 55 carries — 3.1 yards for each endeavor.
Some of the dropoff was thanks to top quality opposition. But it is also legitimate Mitchell took a great deal of immediate hits. He skipped six online games with a knee injuries, a shoulder harm, broken ribs and a concussion.
The answer? Get more adaptable and a tiny heavier. He said he’s up to almost 210 lbs ..
“Muscle-smart, I felt a very little light-weight final calendar year, so place a very little extra,” Mitchell mentioned.
Elijah Mitchell, presumably healed soon after taking a beating in 49ers effective rookie season. pic.twitter.com/O5R1SBThUP
— Jerry McDonald (@Jerrymcd) August 1, 2022
That is about as considerably as you are going to get out of Mitchell, whose silent, humble character and modest-town sensibilities have been shaped in Erath, Louisiana. Mitchell impressed his coaches and teammates from the start with the way he carried himself, probably even more so with the way he carried the ball.
A reputation for velocity and breakaway capacity in higher education took a back again seat to electrical power managing and receiving further yardage, protecting balance and burrowing via small spaces. Coach Kyle Shanahan observed himself looking at his contact sheet for a 3rd-and-8 play only to find out Mitchell had alternatively someway turned it into third-and-5.
The blows took their toll. Mitchell was a spectator in OTAs and necessary minicamp as he healed and rehabbed his body. Nonetheless on the very first working day of pads, there was Mitchell, lining up powering Lance with the first-crew offense.
At just one level, he had a wrap close to his still left ankle. Mitchell was not getting eased into just about anything.
“It goes against human mother nature to get up in suffering and continue to keep going,” 49ers deal with Trent Williams claimed. “We saw him do it all past 12 months. We noticed him strategy the offseason, get himself wholesome, get in shape, and be back again out there for the to start with observe in pads. That suggests a great deal about the unique. Which is why we have all this faith in him and which is why he’s RB1.”
Mitchell opens as the first-string managing back again (RB1), but he’s obtained lots of firm in the operating back again place and the NFL’s most disposable position. Many really don’t make it to a second deal and the major revenue is accessible only to a couple. Trey Sermon, the 3rd-spherical select Mitchell leap-frogged on the depth chart a 12 months back, is back again. So is Jeff Wilson Jr. The 49ers used a third-spherical decide on Tyrion Davis-Rate, who at 6-1, 218 kilos has more of a prototype energy back again system than Mitchell.
That does not include Deebo Samuel, whose function as a runner will be decided on a week-to-7 days basis by Shanahan, based on the opponent and the production of the 49ers’ other runners.
It stays to be witnessed if Mitchell’s playing style will be conducive to currently being persistently obtainable in apply and in online games.
“He wants to get in the routine of how to practice every day, do what he desires to do to perform operating back again for the longevity of a 12 months,” Shanahan mentioned. “Last yr he was not capable to do that. It wasn’t his fault. He broke a quantity of ribs. He experienced some critical accidents. He was as rough as can be. What he did in his very first year was excellent, but if you pass up that a great deal it is not created to final.”
A single issue that could assistance Mitchell is the presence of Lance, who gives deception in that defenders just can’t be positive no matter whether the quarterback will preserve it himself or hand it to the functioning again. When the stationary Jimmy Garoppolo was in the backfield, there was no secret who was finding the ball.
“We have performs the place Trey receives to run, and he does a very good task confusing the protection every time he receives to operate the ball,” Mitchell mentioned.
Mitchell has been diligently doing the job with Lance alongside with Anthony Lynn, who took about coaching operating backs from Bobby Turner, on producing cleanse exchanges at the mesh level for fluidity on exchanges.
The real check will not arrive till Week 1, followed by 16 much more online games of attrition which will figure out if Mitchell’s system can be pushed to a place the place his intellect would like it to go.