The San Francisco 49ers have added to their backfield depth, announcing Wednesday that they’d signed free agent running back Wayne Gallman Jr.
Gallman, a former New York Giant, will join the 49ers on a one-year contract, as reported by the team’s official Twitter account. Financial particulars were not immediately available.
The news came just two days after the 49ers hosted Gallman on an official visit Monday, April 19.
Gallman Joins 49ers Following Best Year of His Career
Gallman filled in for Saquon Barkley last season, after the Giants star running back was sidelined due to an ACL tear he suffered during a Week 2 matchup against the Chicago Bears.
The 26-year-old Gallman is a four-year veteran of the NFL. He posted the best campaign of his career in 2020, rushing for 682 yards on 4.6 yards per carry. He also scampered into the end zone on six occasions.
Gallman, who played his collegiate football for Dabo Swinney and the Clemson Tigers, is also adept at catching passes out of the backfield. He tallied 21 receptions last season for a total of 114 yards through the air.
As important as a running back’s overall production is, how often he actually finds himself on the field to produce matters even more. Gallman appeared in 15 games last season, starting 10 of them, and displayed a level of durability coveted by the 49ers after a season defined by injuries.
Gallman Addition Beefs Up 49ers Injury-Plagued Backfield
Raheem Mostert, the 49ers’ top running back, played in only eight games in 2020. He left two of them prematurely with injury. In total, Mostert found his way to the injured list three times — once for an MCL sprain, and twice for high-ankle sprains.
Jeff Wilson Jr. is currently No. 2 on the 49ers RB depth chart. While Wilson Jr. put together a solid season, leading the team with 600 rushing yards and seven touchdowns, he also struggled to stay on the field. The running back played in a total of 12 games, hampered by similar ankle troubles to those that plagued Mostert.
The running back position will be key to the 49ers success in the upcoming season, particularly if the team finds itself captained by a rookie quarterback. While reports indicate that the 49ers will retain the services of current starter Jimmy Garoppolo, it is also widely expected that the team will select a signal caller with the third pick in the NFL Draft.
Garoppolo has struggled with injuries since landing in San Francisco, missing 10 games last season alone, meaning that even if the 49ers don’t want to throw a first-year QB’s feet in the fire, the team may find itself with no choice.
Be it Mac Jones from Alabama, Justin Fields from Ohio State or Trey Lance from North Dakota State — all three of whom have been reported as prospective selections at No. 3 — the 49ers will require a reliable rushing attack to ease their new quarterback’s growing pains, should that rookie selection see the field.
Adding Gallman to the mix provides some extra security behind San Francisco’s top two backfield producers, and he may challenge for a regular spot in the rotation even if the entire roster remains healthy at that position.