Which San Francisco 49ers running back can you trust in Week 14?

The San Francisco 49ers running back committee of Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson, and Tevin Coleman is notoriously one of the most difficult in the NFL to get an understanding of for fantasy football managers. Like his father before him, Kyle Shanahan is unpredictable with his running back usage, plus San Francisco has so many options on their roster at this position. Luckily, this can also be a highly productive source of fantasy points if navigated correctly.

Who to start in the San Francisco 49ers running back committee of Jerrick McKinnon, Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson, and Tevin Coleman

So far this season, the 49ers have had a whopping 12 players carry the football, but none more than 80 times. Jerrick McKinnon has 80 carries, Raheem Mostert has 76, Jeff Wilson has 57, JaMycal Hasty has 39, and Tevin Coleman has carried the ball 23 times in his four games played.

Mostert’s 388 rushing yards lead the team, and his 5.1 yards per carry average is easily the best of this crew. However, Mostert has only appeared in six games. McKinnon has rushed for 315 yards but averages under four yards per carry in his dozen-game sample. Wilson averages 4.4 yards per carry but has only played in eight games. You can see the dilemma here.

Which 49ers running back has the edge in the receiving game?

In terms of receiving, both 49ers running backs McKinnon and Mostert are averaging a little over two receptions per game played, but McKinnon gets more balls thrown his way on a per-game basis. Yet, with both Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel healthy, those two explosive young receivers should get a huge portion of the short throws, often behind or at the line of scrimmage.

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Aiyuk and Samuel both show outstanding explosiveness and open field abilities. They are tackle breakers as well as make-you-miss guys. In the Shanahan system, after the catch ability is imperative, and with Nick Mullens now at quarterback in place of Jimmy Garoppolo, the 49ers will be looking to manufacture easy throws more than ever. That is perfect for Aiyuk and Samuel. They are now the foundation of San Francisco’s passing game with George Kittle unavailable.

The snap share speaks volumes

The NFL often breaks things down in four-week increments. Over the last month, Mostert has played 42% of the snaps, McKinnon 41%, Wilson 40%, and Hasty has played 23% of the 49ers’ offensive snaps. None of the 49ers running backs have received a noticeable portion of the target share during this time — after all, it’s not unusual for Shanahan to have one of the truest RB committees in the league.

McKinnon wasn’t in the mix this past week against Buffalo as we saw Mostert carry the ball nine times and Wilson carrying it just seven times for about the same amount of production. The game before that vs. the Los Angeles Rams was basically the same distribution and output, but again, McKinnon wasn’t available. That was Mostert’s first game back from his high ankle injury that he suffered in Week 6. Wilson went on injured reserve in Week 7 with an ankle injury and was brought back onto the active roster for San Francisco’s Week 12 win against the Rams.

Against the Saints and Packers the previous two games, San Francisco didn’t have Mostert or Wilson in the lineup, and McKinnon totally dominated the carries. However, McKinnon was available these two most recent games and only saw spot duty in clear passing situations. Obviously, availability and the injury reports are a huge key here with our attempt to figure out San Francisco’s backfield usage, but these past two weeks show us that McKinnon really isn’t in the mix for legit touches. He can no longer be considered for fantasy purposes.

Is 49ers running back Raheem Mostert the clear number one?

All that being said, Mostert is the 49ers’ best runner, and it really isn’t close. He has great speed and aggression hitting the hole. His no-nonsense style and explosiveness is a tremendous fit in this scheme. Few backs have his burst, and he runs with good pad level. Mostert has good vision and puts his foot in the ground, and explodes through a crease like few other runners in the league. He is a nightmare to deal with in the open field.

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Wilson runs angry and brings attitude to the field. However, he doesn’t have close to the big play ability of Mostert. A prerequisite for San Francisco’s running backs is pure speed and initial burst for this zone-based system. Wilson doesn’t really fit that mold. He is also a bit of a fumbler. It just looks different when Mostert is in the game as opposed to Jeff Wilson.

But Wilson doesn’t look to be going away, and Tevin Coleman isn’t out of the picture despite really being unimpressive this season. And neither Mostert nor Wilson is a major contributor in the passing game — exacerbated by some of the 49ers WRs getting healthy and taking potential volume away.

Which 49ers running back can you trust in Week 14 and beyond?

This week San Francisco hosts Washington. They follow that up by traveling to Dallas in Week 15, and Arizona in Week 16 — championship week for fantasy. Going into Week 14, only the Saints and Buccaneers average fewer fantasy points allowed to the running back position than Washington’s defense.

However, only Houston and Indianapolis are more giving to the position than the Cowboys. Baltimore ran all over the Cowboys on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Arizona is a middle of the road matchup against the running back position.

Many fantasy football managers might not have this luxury. In a perfect world – or even in DFS – the ideal move might be to tightly monitor the 49ers running back situation this week in a difficult matchup and then pounce on it next week against the Cowboys.

Shanahan will always frustrate fantasy football managers, and this year is no different. Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson, and Tevin Coleman may feel like tossing darts at the dartboard. But the way this sets up, Mostert is an extremely attractive option and could be a dominant player in Week 15 and 16.

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