Embed from Getty Images

As of right now, the 49ers backfield is a mess between Tevin Coleman, Jerick McKinnon, and Matt Breida.

Two backs in Kyle Shanahan’s system sounds great when you consider that this can be actually be a 3-man backfield. Shanahan has proven that his system can provide efficiency; the 1a can have decent volume while being somewhat efficient, and the 1b can provide value if they’re very efficient like Tevin Coleman was with Shanahan in 2016.

The outside zone system can be beneficial for all of these guys. Even though McKinnon hasn’t been the best runner in his career, in the small sample of him running in outside zone, he’s actually been somewhat successful. Coleman showed that he can do it as well, but both of these guys’ bread and butter is in the pass game.

Talent wise, Coleman is probably the better runner, while McKinnon is probably the better pass-catching back. However, Coleman has shown success in this particular passing game, being uber efficient with his 13.6 yards per reception and 11 total TDs in 2016. Neither of these stats are indicators of future success, but that YPR stat is indicative of his playmaking ability when he gets the ball in space. If he can get most of the early down work, along with catch passes and screens on early downs too, he might be the more valuable asset.

At the end of the day, I doubt Shanahan uses three backs in the rotation – it’s just an inefficient process, especially when there are overlapping and similar skillsets. It’s tough to have Breida be the odd man out when he had success last year, but versatility might be an issue.

It’s really anyone’s guess at this point, so what do you guys think? If you had to bet on one guy today in this desirable run scheme, who are you betting on? 👇👇