The San Francisco 49ers were not expected to take a running back in their first three selections back on April 29. After all, the emergence of rookie Elijah Mitchell and the drafting of third rounder Trey Sermon were the reasons.
And the 49ers weren’t even mentioned as a fit for Tyrion Davis-Price. Not one prominent NFL Draft expert had his name linked to the 49ers before the draft, let alone had the Ex-LSU Tiger going in day two of the spectacle.
But it won’t be long until the 49ers get the chance to see the speed and power that convinced the franchise to take him in — with a big emphasis on the first skillset once the ‘Niners arrive for mandatory minicamp on Tuesday, June 7.
Davis-Price has been hailed as the surprise selection in this offseason for the 49ers. But was it a game or a certain stat line that piqued the 49ers’ interest in getting the powerhouse back?
For one front office executive on the 49ers, he revealed to one insider/columnist that it was a particular play that captured their attention…and persuaded them to add to the backfield.
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Play Was Against National Juggernaut Known for Producing NFL Defenders
Assistant general manager of the 49ers Adam Peters spoke with Matt Barrows of The Athletic about what exactly it was that got the 49ers to swoop up Davis-Price at No. 93 overall.
Barrows detailed how the 49ers’ brass had their eyes locked on a particular game that featured three defenders who eventually got taken in the first four rounds of the 2022 draft: The Alabama game from the 2021 season.
“The 49ers saw that zip on film, particularly during LSU’s game against Alabama on November 6,” Barrows wrote. “On the 63rd play, Davis-Price broke across the line of scrimmage and within 15 yards hit his highest speed of the season, which according to the 49ers, was among the top five speeds of any runner in the draft.”
Barrows’ next five words he typed: “The burst caught their attention.”
Peters then dove further in his conversation with Barrows.
“A lot of times, guys reach higher speeds because they have the opportunity. They maybe aren’t as fast as other guys, but because they have the opportunity to run 60 yards in a straight line they reach a high speed,” Peters said to Barrows. “(Davis-Price) reaching his top speed in a short amount of space is most impressive.”
The play Peters is referring to is this power and burst display from Davis-Price — which came on a fourth-and-1 scenario and with up to 10 Crimson Tide defenders in the box expecting run. He ends up forcing the furthest safety from the run Jordan Battle to stop Davis-Price in his tracks, which still put LSU inside the Alabama 10-yard line.
Barrows included “the 49ers also liked that the play occurred midway through the fourth quarter.”
LSU Back Bringing Needed Element Missing Under Kyle Shanahan
There’s an added reason why Davis-Price was taken that high as noted by Barrows.
“Since Kyle Shanahan arrived in 2017, the 49ers’ running back rooms has had plenty of speed and it’s had stretches of brilliance. But it’s lacked staying power,” Barrows wrote. “Injuries have bitten deeply into the group in each of those five seasons and the hope is that a bigger bodied runner like Davis-Price will bring some old-fashioned thud and resilience to the mix.”
That old-school element isn’t expected to be on display during minicamp. But when the pads come back on, the 49ers are expecting the speed/power combo that was on display on the play that won over S.F. The 49ers will also be expecting plays like the ones below to reignite the ground attack.