49ers Once Again Prove Their Depth is of High Quality
You always hear of next man up mentality in the NFL, but how many teams truthfully mean that? Not all teams in this league are deep most positions, let alone half of them. However, the San Francisco 49ers are one of the rare teams that are deep at almost every position. Their win over the Arizona Cardinals in week 11 once again proves that their depth is of high quality.
Consider how many players this season have been absent due to injury. When you do that, you'll see that almost every injured player has been a starter. The amount of players that have missed time has been ridiculous for this team, yet there high quality of depth has allowed them to get over that hump. Start tight end George Kittle, who is the most important player on offense, missed his second consecutive game this week.
Despite his loss, the 49ers were still in good hands with Ross Dwelley filling in. The guy has done a lot for this team in 2019. From being able to fill in as fullback when Kyle Juszczyk went down to coming in as a capable receiver. Dwelley accumulated four receptions for 14 yards and two touchdowns. They aren't eye-popping stats, but the fact that he can come in and make an impact softens the loss of Kittle.
Dwelley is just one of many players who shows off the 49ers' high quality of depth. Take the 49ers' last touchdown play for example. Jeff Wilson Jr. started the season on the practice squad and ever since joining the active roster he has made the most of his opportunities. The go-ahead touchdown play that he had was his first and only snap of the game. To have that mindset to be ready at all times and to actually deliver once you get the call is astounding.
Richie James Jr. proved that mindset as well when he got the call on a designed screen play by breaking down the field for 57 yards. Most players who have shy'd away from this, but James and Wilson were hungry. Kyle Shanahan put his faith in these players and they proved why. From top to bottom, the depth at running back is stout. Both Matt Breida and Tevin Coleman have missed games this season, yet there is never reason to be concerned with the production from the group.
Even in a game where they only tallied 14 rushing yards, the running backs still impacted the game without Breida. If a team is going to go far into the playoffs, they must have high quality of depth. Opposing teams will do their best to takeaway the other's best player and that is where the depth players will come in. When the 49ers come across that scenario they will be ready for it. Joe Staley, once again, was sidelined due to an injury and so Justin Skule slid back in as the starter.
The job he did against the Cardinals and even before Staley returned cannot be overstated. Even Daniel Brunskill did a fantastic job when he covered for Mike McGlinchey. The 49ers are a deep football team that is talented all over. Their star power may be lacking a bit, but that lack of concentration into a few players is instead spread out all over. It's why the exectuion on both sides of the ball has been phenomenal for the 49ers.
Of course, the elite coaching of Shanahan and Robert Saleh plays a big part as to why the depth players are producing. However, to say that they are the lone reason would diminish their talents. Starting 9-1 is not achievable without the players who fill out the depth chart. For most teams, those players who are third string and below are just names. But for the San Francisco 49ers, they are key contributors to the success of this team.