The latest area for the San Francisco 49ers to address after another wave of injuries? Running back.
Alongside quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and defensive linemen Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas, the 49ers also lost Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman to various knee injuries this past week, sidelining the pair for the immediate future and putting a serious dent into what was a deep stable of running backs.
While Jerick McKinnon and Jeff Wilson remain, the 49ers need emergency depth, which has prompted the team to look into a trio of players, according to the NFL’s Tom Pelissero.
With Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman sidelined, the #49ers are bringing in several running backs for a tryout, including ex-Giant Paul Perkins, Karan Higdon and Austin Walter.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) September 22, 2020
It’s not exactly a group of high-profile names, but San Francisco isn’t going to sign up guys that are now spent, the team will look for players that best suit their needs as they attempt to navigate an injury crisis.
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Breaking Down the Trio
Walter is a name that some 49ers fans might remember from San Francisco’s 2019 preseason campaign, in which the former Rice running back broke the plane in the 49ers’ matchup with the Los Angeles Chargers.
Not making an NFL roster saw Walter flash in the XFL before the cancellation of it’s 2020 startup campaign. At 24, the running back is still young and San Francisco has seen what he can offer, so don’t count him out for a spot.
Higdon was a first-team All-Big 10 running back in 2018 for the Michigan Wolverines, and rode the practice squad in 2019 with the Houston Texans.
Like Walter, Higdon’s youth and consistent spot on the practice squad for a decent team like the Texans isn’t a bad sign, but the 49ers will have to see something pretty special out of him for Higdon to beat known quantities in Walter and Perkins.
Perkins has the most extensive NFL resume, playing a significant role for the New York Giants in the 2016 season and also spending time with the Detroit Lions last year.
Perkins averaged 4.1 yards per carry in that first New York season, while also proving to be a reliable pass-catching option out of the backfield. A bit more a power runner, Perkins would be a decent complement to a shifty rusher like McKinnon.
Best for 49ers
It will be interesting to see if San Francisco takes a shot on Perkins, Walter or Higdon. Perkins offers a proven resume, Higdon and Walter bring youth and potential, and Walter is also a guy the 49ers know to a certain degree.
While Walter’s background may play a factor, it will likely rely on who impresses the most at their workout. If Higdon impresses physically, there’s no reason why you would select either over him if they don’t match the quality.
That being said, it’s hard to see the 49ers going another direction than Perkins. The mix of proven ability while also being a relatively youthful 25-years-old makes for a good combo, and the former Giant could find more NFL success on his third team.
Evan Reier is a sportswriter covering the San Francisco 49ers for Heavy.com and local sports for the Montana Standard in Butte, Mont. Reach out to him on Twitter at @evanreier and join our 49ers community at Heavy on 49ers on Facebook.