Pick No. 194 for the San Francisco 49ers has become the leading candidate for top steal of the 2021 NFL Draft.
And the sixth rounder has thrived in the 49ers’ backfield, especially following a dominating afternoon against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, November 28.
Before the draft, Elijah Mitchell entered the league with a 5.64 prospect grade by nfl.com — meaning that the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajun star was predicted to have a chance to make the end of the roster or land on the practice squad.
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But now, Mitchell has proven to be the late round steal NFL writers and fans look for. And as one NFL analyst/writer pointed out on Tuesday, November 30, Mitchell is leading the late round coalition during the 49ers’ 4-1 surge.
Mitchell Among Late Round Steals Thriving for S.F.
Here’s who David Lombardi of The Athletic pinpointed as top late round contributors. But take a look at the first name:
And what has Mitchell done to get to this point as the top bell cow back for the 49ers? Yes, Raheem Mostert’s injury and other ailments in the backfield has been a contributor. But Mitchell is a prime example of someone who was ready to answer the call when his team needed him. Here’s a listing of what he’s accomplished:
Carries: Of the eight games Mitchell has played, six has seen him carry the football between 17 to 27 times, which is the most by any S.F back since 2017 per Kyle Madson of USA Today’s Niners Wire. And against the Vikes, the 5-foot-10, 200-pounder pounded the visitors with 27 carries for 133 yards and tallied 168 total yardage in the 34-26 home win.
Yards: Mitchell has four 100-yard games — surpassing the previous best held by Billy Kilmer who posted a trio of triple-digit games in 1961 per Pro Football Reference.
Battling through pain: Not only is Mitchell winning over the 49ers faithful with his play, but also his ability to bounce back from an injury, seen below:
And, as noted by former NFL cornerback and Locked on 49ers Podcast host Eric Crocker, Mitchell is 300 yards away from this early NFL career milestone:
Mitchell Spearheading Day 3 Steals for 49ers
Mitchell’s play has helped make the 49ers’ scouting department look amazing on day three of the draft.
And he’s not the only one thriving as a final day pick at S.F. Others include…
George Kittle: Eight tight ends were taken ahead of the fifth rounder Kittle. He has since established himself as a Pro Bowler, NFC champion and arguably, the league’s most devastating blocker.
And, Kittle is a strong endorser of Mitchell.
Jauan Jennings: The seventh round pick in the 2020 draft out of the University of Tennessee has established himself as a starter on offense. Jennings caught a pass between veterans Bashaud Breeland and Xavier Woods.
And, found the end zone.
D.J. Jones: Like Kittle, the defensive tackle Jones was a late pick in the ’17 draft (sixth rounder). The 6-foot, 304-pound Jones has since established himself as the lane plugger who stuffs the run and frees up the linebackers and ends.
Dre Greenlaw: Though limited with injuries this season, the former fifth rounder in 2019 has collected 60 or more tackles in his first two seasons in the league. And he made this epic 2019 stop against the team the ‘Niners will face on Sunday.
Talanoa Hufanga: The safety was drafted a round ahead of Mitchell. Since starting due to injuries in the secondary, Hufanga has established himself as a sure tackler and, in the case of the Minnesota win, a strong goal line presence.
Of course, there’s undrafted players like Azeez Al-Shaair and Emmanuel Moseley stepping up for the 49ers during this recent surge. But Mitchell has put the ground game on his back for a team that prefers to ground and pound. And in the process, has become that new late round steal.