49ers Help Open up Return for Rookie RB, Waive Linebacker

Trey Sermon

Getty Trey Sermon during the 49ers' October 3, 2021 loss to Seattle.

Two members of the San Francisco 49ers running back room have dealt with injuries during December. But now one became a recipient of having his practice window officially open on Tuesday, December 21.

While leading rusher Elijah Mitchell (concussion, knee irritation) has been upgraded to a game time decision for the Thursday, December 23 showdown with the Tennessee Titans by general manager John Lynch during an interview with KNBR 680 AM on Tuesday morning, a fellow 49ers draft mate from the 2021 class is in the process of seeing the field as well.

The franchise announced that they have opened up the 21-day practice window for Trey Sermon, who went down with an ankle injury against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 12. Not only did the 49ers create that opening for Sermon, but additionally waived linebacker Tyrell Adams, who had been with the team’s practice squad.

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Sermon, who played collegiately at Oklahoma and Ohio State before going 88th overall in the third round of the draft, was going to give Tuesday evening’s practice a try per The Athletic’s David Lombardi.

“He’ll be out at SF’s primetime practice tonight,” was what Lombardi tweeted.

Sermon Provided Change-of-Pace Back for 49ers Backfield

Plays like this during his Buckeye years was one reason why Sermon got on NFL Draft boards.

Plus this performance, accompanied by a hurdle.

In May 27 on the NFL Network, he was described as someone with “physicality and power” and had the ability to make defenders miss in the open field.

He scored his lone NFL touchdown in Week 3 against the Green Bay Packers by taking this fourth quarter dive.

Before his injury, the 22-year-old averaged 4.1 yards per carry and started in two games according to Pro Football Reference. He has missed the last three games.

How 49er RBs Performed Without Sermon

In his absence, the 49ers went on to add former Atlanta Falcon Brian Hill to the practice squad. The big 6-foot-1, 219-pound back was eventually elevated to the active 53-man roster against his former team on Sunday, December 19.

The top backfield star, though, during the 31-13 trouncing of the Falcons that lifted the 49ers to 8-6 overall was Jeff Wilson — who finished with his first 100-yard game (110) of 2021. Wilson sent out the warning before the Falcons game that he wanted to “take their souls” while running the ball.

The fourth-year running back, who now has 1,220 career rushing yards per Pro Football Reference, powered through this Atlanta look with up to nine defenders in the box for six points.

Wilson did his most damage on outside runs as noted by Next Gen Stats.

The running game, as a whole, ranks seventh in the league in rushing yards according to nfl.com. However, the ‘Niners are tied for second with their Thursday night opponent with 20 ground-based touchdowns.

Sermon will obviously have a rust factor to him. But depending on his health, plus the health of Mitchell, the 49ers could have both for the 9-5 Titans.

Could Waived LB Still Return?

While Adams was waived, he could still have an extended stay in the Bay Area if he clears waivers.

The 29-year-old linebacker was elevated to the 53-man depth chart for four 49er games this season: Weeks 7, 9, 13 and 15. Adams was mostly a special teams contributor — playing on 94 total snaps through five of the six special team units minus the field goal team via Pro Football Focus.

And if Adams does return to S.F., it’ll mark this personal record for him: His third stint with an NFL franchise. He previously had two stops with the Seattle Seahawks and Kansas City Chiefs. He’s had two tenures with the 49ers as well.

Lastly, per Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area, the 49ers announced these four players who are protected from the practice squad:

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