As part of a mailbag question, someone asked what the game plan would look like with Trey Lance under center.
I expect it will be a “Back to the Future”-type situation for Kyle Shanahan and Mike McDaniel, who had rookies at quarterback (Robert Griffin III) and running back (Alfred Morris) when they were assistants in Washington in 2012. That team led the NFL in rushing and went to the playoffs. Morris finished with 1,613 rushing yards and Griffin with 815 yards.
The story said the one big difference is Lance attempted 318 passes at North Dakota State while Griffin attempted 1,192 throws at Baylor, which points more to a run-heavy attack. Anther issue is Sermon has only been OK as a runner over two games, and even if Mitchell returns from a shoulder injury, he's a rookie as well, so there are a lot of questions with the run game. The Niners do have the luxury of a bye in Week 6.
Sermon has been OK over the last two weeks but the feeling is he didn't take control of the RB1 job. At this point, if anything, the 49ers could really use Mitchell on third down or passing downs. It may take a week or so to figure out how the workload will be split up when Mitchell returns with Sermon, but it looks like Mitchell could be back on track for Week 5. The Niners do have a bye in Week 6.
Trey Sermon had two fewer snaps than he did against Green Bay, but it was clear he was more comfortable and that Shanahan and his assistants trusted him more. Still, the team hasn’t had a true third-down back after JaMycal Hasty went down with a high ankle sprain in Week 2.
For the second straight game, Kyle Juszczyk was the running back of choice on third downs or when the 49ers were in a hurry-up mode. Or the 49ers had a running back split out wide with no one in the backfield in those situations. The last two games have been heavier in three-receiver formations (56 percent of plays) than the first two (32 percent) when the 49ers had their full (or at least fuller) complement of tailbacks.
With Mitchell out with a shoulder injury, Sermon ran 19 times for 89 yards on the day. Meanwhile it was Juszczyk who was targeted four times and had four catches for 41 yards. Sermon was targeted once on the day. There will be some workload and role questions in this backfield when Mitchell is able to play again.