The San Francisco 49ers suffered what seemed like a crushing blow early last September when running back Jerick McKinnon tore his ACL. Kyle Shanahan admitted the injury resulted in significant changes to their game plan. McKinnon had not secured a consistent starting role with the Minnesota Vikings, but in Santa Clara he was going to be a huge part of the ground and air game.
The 49ers will welcome McKinnon back with open arms this offseason, but they do it now knowing they have a heck of a weapon in running back Matt Breida. The former UDFA had a solid rookie season, averaging 4.4 yards per carry behind Carlos Hyde. In his second season, following McKinnon’s injury, he had a breakout season. An ankle injury slowed him for stretches of the season, but he finished with 814 rushing yards at a 5.3 yards per carry clip, and another 261 receiving yards.
Last month, I came across this ranking if players (via Oscar Aparicio). It ranks running backs using expected points added (measures a play’s impact on the score of the game). Breida shows up No. 10 on EPA per rushing play and No. 6 on EPA per play for combined run and pass plays.
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