The 49ers are at a split in the road with Jerick McKinnon. It seems as though their two options are placing him on season-ending IR after his latest setback on Tuesday or straight up cutting him. Releasing him might be trickier, but ESPN’s Nick Wagoner covering the 49ers reported back in March that all fully guaranteed money for McKinnon has been paid, and his $3.7 million salary was guaranteed on April 1. If this is accurate, there might be a way out for the 49ers if that’s the path they choose. Dan Graziano of ESPN also reported something similar. Either way, it’s a lose/lose because of the cap hit.
That leaves a lot more clarity in the 49ers backfield right before the season begins with Tevin Coleman as the current 1a to Matt Breida’s role as the 1b. The snap counts were split 30-19 in Coleman’s favor this preseason with the first team, and he was also the heavy favorite on third downs. However, when you look deeper, Breida has looked a lot better with his opportunities. You can judge by watching them play, but it also shows up on the stat sheet; Breida took his 8 carries for 48 yards, while Coleman took his 12 for 40. Breida caught 3 passes for 31 yards and a TD, while Coleman caught 1 pass for 2. Small sample size, no doubt.
Regardless of who’s playing better, Breida has rose out of the fantasy ashes and become very relevant once again. Kyle Shanahan’s two-back system has had success in Atlanta, and he 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. Can Breida be efficient? We saw exactly that last season.
With the 49ers RB corp soon-to-be stabilized, it makes Breida attractive for fantasy once again, and his play this preseason makes the case of him closing the gap in snaps and/or taking over as the 1a. His situation makes him a great pick at his ADP of the 8th round in 12-team PPR drafts.