Elijah Mitchell’s TD vs. Bears Gets Special Recognition From 49ers Coach

Elijah Mitchell

Getty Elijah Mitchell of the 49ers looks for an opening during San Francisco's 33-22 road win in Chicago.

Elijah Mitchell has gone from sixth-round draft pick who fell to the San Francisco 49ers to the team’s lead back with consecutive 100-yard games.

Many are lauding his perseverance and grit on this run that gave the 49ers their first lead of the Halloween Week 8 game against the Chicago Bears, a game the Niners eventually won to snap their four-game slide.

Per Next Gen Stats, Mitchell gained 124 of his 137 yards on outside runs, with five of his runs stretching beyond 10 yards.

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But that scoring play from Mitchell did more than swing the momentum toward the 49ers. It convinced head coach Kyle Shanahan to give it one unique acronym when talking to Bay Area reporters on Monday, November 1.

The ‘WIT’ Plays

What it takes — that’s what “WIT” means to the 49ers head coach.

Shanahan pointed out that scoring play when the 49ers were watching film of their 33-22 road win.

“That was one that I showed in front of the whole team,” Shanahan shared. “There was about 12 clips. I always make little notes on our computers that go with plays, that I always do just for myself. I write on plays. I just write ‘WIT,’ which means ‘what it takes’ and what it takes to win football games.”

Former 49ers left tackle Joe Staley admitted he jumped out his seat when he saw that run, calling it “a huge attitude play” and “the first fight I’ve seen from them.”

It wasn’t just that scoring play that got the “WIT” label from Shanahan, though. The 41-year-old head coach mentioned a simple run on Mitchell’s second carry…but left Shanahan in awe of his effort.

“I go back to like, Elijah’s second run on the game. I think it was the fourth play of the game. It was first-and-10 and ran power and he got stopped at the line of scrimmage, but him and (Kyle Juszczyk) kept driving their feet, and he got seven yards and made it second-and-three,” Shanahan said. “And it’s a little play in the game, but that play to me shows everything. You need stuff like that. That’s what it’s going to take to win.”

Mitchell Becoming the Draft Class’s Best Late Round Steal

Before taking his first NFL handoff, Lance Zierlein of nfl.com described Mitchell as a “productive runner” who “has leg strength to play through arm tackles,” but lacked speed to turn the corner and was described as someone with “tightness at the hips.”

If anything, Mitchell showed some burst after first contact on this run:

Mitchell’s Sunday totals now puts him at 433 yards through five games, which places him at 16th overall in the league but second behind the Los Angeles Rams’ Darrell Henderson among NFC West running backs.

And, among the 2021 rookie running back class, only Najee Harris of the Pittsburgh Steelers has more yards than Mitchell at 479. However, Harris and Mitchell have the same number of scoring touchdowns at three.

Could Mitchell end up becoming the latest sixth-round success story? It is a round that’s produced names like seven-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady, seven-time Pro Bowler and 2021 Super Bowl champion Antonio Brown, four-time Pro Bowler and 2018 Super Bowl champion Jason Kelce and lastly, three-time Pro Bowler, 1998 league Most Valuable Player and two-time Vince Lombardi Trophy winner Terrell Davis.

It’s definitely too early to say Mitchell will join that exclusive list. But what 49er fans know is this: Mitchell is winning the team over with his “WIT” plays.

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