Someone’s four-year, $4,872,934 contract with the San Francisco 49ers is beginning to look unpromising.
The emergence of draft pick Tyrion Davis-Price, undrafted rookie Jordan Mason plus veteran JaMycal Hasty all providing a backfield spark during the 2022 preseason has officially done this for second-year running back Trey Sermon: Face the possibility of being left off the final 53-man roster.
It’s a stunning turn of events for a quick and powerful back whose rookie deal was nearly worth $5 million and has a $903,952 signing bonus per Spotrac. But Sermon is suddenly facing a nebulous future, as two well-known insiders and columnists around the 49ers both noted on Monday, August 22.
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‘I Just Think Hasty’s Been Better’
Nick Wagoner of ESPN appeared on the Papa and Lund Show on KNBR to discuss the state of the backfield room in the Bay Area. Wagoner was blunt in saying who has been the better back between Hasty and the past third rounder Sermon.
“I just think Hasty’s been better,” Wagoner told both hosts. “I don’t know how else to put it.”
Wagoner points out how the 49ers have given Sermon multiple opportunities.
“They’ve given Trey Sermon a lot of opportunities this year, they gave him a lot of opportunities last year and people were surprised last year when Elijah Mitchell overtook him,” Wagoner said.
Sermon only has 19 yards on 11 carries in the 49ers’ two preseason games. Hasty, Davis-Price and Mason have taken the bulk of the backfield reins — with the latter emerging as this preseason’s top backfield surprise. The 49ers also have Mitchell and resigned veteran Jeff Wilson.
If the 49ers do keep Sermon, it gives S.F. six backfield options for their run-heavy zone scheme — seven if you include Deebo Samuel who became the “wide back” of the offense. It leads Wagoner to make this stirring post preseason prediction: A trade.
“This year, to me, it feels a little bit like they’ve almost been showcasing Sermon a little bit in these preseason games,” Wagoner continued. “Getting him out there first and maybe there’s a team that liked him coming out of the draft that thinks they can still get something out of them. He hasn’t had much success, and to be fair he’s a little banged up right now, but before that he had struggled.
“Now maybe they want to keep an extra running back, maybe they want to go that way this year. But even if you throw Jordan Mason into that mix and granted it’s been against third, fourth-stringers, he’s looked better than Trey Sermon too,” Wagoner continued. “The Niners have showed a willingness to move on from backs drafted in those mid rounds early. We saw that with Joe Williams a few years back, maybe they’re willing to do it again with Sermon.”
Wagoner isn’t the only one who could see Sermon becoming a waive come August 31.
‘There Might be Room for Only One More RB’
Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area is another starting to ask: Could Trey Sermon be left off 49ers’ final 53-man roster?
“Sermon was expected to eventually take over as the team’s No. 1 rusher — at least that was the expectation when he was selected in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft,” Maiocco wrote. “But as he enters the second season of his career, it is fair to ask whether Sermon warrants a spot on the team’s 53-man roster.
After all, the 49ers selected another running back this year in the third round of the draft. Ty Davis-Price is virtually assured of a place on the team’s depth chart.”
Leaving Maiocco to state: “There might be room for only one more running back with Mitchell, Wilson and Davis-Price.”
One argument for Mason taking a 53-man spot: He leads the 49ers with 87 yards on 15 rushing attempts — a 5.8-yard average. Maiocco pointed out how Sermon shows hesitation in his runs that prevents him from going upfield quickly.
Maiocco isn’t the only set of eyes who’s noticing the hesitant side of Sermon. Brad Graham of @TheSFNiners has caught that lapse in Sermon’s game too.
Sermon was once thought of as a future No. 1 RB option. He could now be a trade or cut option in scrutinizing this backfield for the 49ers.