The news came out two days ago that the San Francisco 49ers will sign Alfred Morris if he passes his physical. This is an interesting move for a handful of different reasons. If the 49ers were to have a time machine this would be an awesome move and would improve their chances of winning immediately.
First off, Morris has not been effective since his time with the Washington Redskins in 2015. Even though he managed to average 4.8 yards a carry in 2018 with the Dallas Cowboys, he only had one touchdown and was outshined by the Cowboys other running backs. Any running back’s stats are going to be a little bit better with the Cowboys since they arguably have the best offensive line in the NFL. It is unclear what the 49ers intentions were with this move. If they wanted a third-down back, one would question why?, since they already have a quality third-down back in Matt Brieda. Third-string running back Joe Williams has also caught the attention of Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch and has received praise for his offseason work from both. If they wanted a power back, they already have fullback Kyle Juszczyk who is beastly short yardage back which is why he is the highest paid fullback in the NFL.
There is one theory that could prove to be the truest one, which is that starting running back Jerick Mckinnon is hurt worse than what the 49ers reported. Mckinnon was injured in the 49ers first preseason game oddly enough against the Dallas Cowboys. He quickly got an MRI in the following days and then the 49ers reported his injury “did not appear to be major.” Does not appear to be major is about the least assuring thing a team could say about an injury. It is almost like saying it doesn’t appear to be horrible but it just might be. If this is the case then it makes sense why the 49ers would pick up Morris to have a third running back to add depth to make up for Mckinnon’s absence. Matt Brieda has been dealing with an AC joint sprain but is expected to be ready for week one. These injuries to the 49ers top two running backs could be what caused Lynch and Shanahan to make this move for Morris.
But one thing is for sure, there is absolutely no way that Alfred Morris is the starting running back for the 49ers next season. Whether Mckinnon is out or not, Morris won’t be the starting running back. Matt Brieda and Joe Williams are both better than Morris, and younger. The average time for a running back in the NFL is between three and five years. Joe Williams is entering his second season and spent his entire rookie season on the injury reserved list. Alfred Morris is entering his seventh season and saw a heavy workload when he was the Washington Redskins featured back. Matt Brieda is entering his second season and had a good season last year as a backup with 465 yards and two touchdowns in limited touches. One interesting thing about the running back battle is that Matt Brieda and Jerick McKinnon both played college ball at Georiga Southern so that chemistry could develop a nice one-two punch with the two speedy backs.
The 49er faithful will soon find out how major their projected starting running back Mckinnon’s injury is. Unfortunately, the Morris transaction is not a hopeful sign for Niner fans. With the spectacular Jimmy Garoppolo under center the future is bright for the Bay Area, now the only question is who will be standing behind Jimmy G. in the backfield.