49ers' Kyle Shanahan explains why Trey Sermon isn't involved in offense

Shanahan explains why Sermon isn't involved in 49ers' offense originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

When the 49ers moved up in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft to select Ohio State running back Trey Sermon, many had visions of the powerful back gashing defenses as a key cog in coach Kyle Shanahan's rushing attack during his rookie season.

Through 10 weeks, that has not been the case. Sermon has rushed just 31 times for 135 yards and one touchdown this season. He has been a healthy scratch twice and has not registered a carry since Week 5.

Sermon was passed by sixth-round pick Elijah Mitchell in camp and has not been able to move up the depth chart this season. During his Wednesday press conference, Shanahan offered an update on where Sermon's development stands.

“Yeah, you guys have asked that a lot and right now, it's nothing against Trey," Shanahan said when asked what he needed to see out of the rookie for him to get more snaps."Trey had an opportunity when guys got hurt and I thought he got better in each game with that. But he didn't do enough for us to put him ahead of Elijah or Jeff. And so it's pretty much as simple as that, like if Jeff wasn't out there or Elijah wasn't, he would have taken one of those roles.

"When it came to third downs, we always started out with [RB] Raheem [Mostert] then it went to Hasty. And now we've gone with Juice. Not always wanting to put a rookie in a third-down role, so he had an opportunity when there was injuries, but those guys have come back and we still have those guys ahead of him.”

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Mitchell sustained a finger fracture during the 49ers' Week 10 win over the Los Angeles Rams, but Shanahan is optimistic the rookie will be able to play Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Mitchell took over as the 49ers' lead back after Raheem Mostert suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 1. Mithcell has rushed for 560 yards and three touchdowns this season.

Wilson Jr. suffered a meniscus injury in May and opened the season on the PUP list. He was activated ahead of the 49ers' Week 9 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

The 49ers haven't received a big contribution from their top draft picks this season. Quarterback Trey Lance remains behind Jimmy Garoppolo on the depth chart, while second-round pick Aaron Banks has found himself as a healthy scratch on most Sundays as has third-round pick Ambry Thomas.

For Sermon, it appears he still has quite the uphill climb to become a factor in the 49ers' backfield this season.

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