Most of the 49ers rookies this season have struggled to Kyle Shanahan's trust.
Elijah Mitchell is the exception.
Mitchell was the 49ers' final draft pick this season -- they got him in Round 6. And yet when Raheem Mostert got injured on his second carry of the season, Mitchell replaced him as the bell cow. And so far, in five career games, Mitchell is averaging an excellent 5.3 yards per carry.
Is there something intangible about Mitchell that allowed him to earn Shanahan's trust so quickly, or is he just flat-out good?
"I think he's very talented," Shanahan said on Monday, "but to make it in this league, especially as a rookie, you can't just be talented with physical skills. You have to be made of the right stuff, too. And he's an extreme pro. He doesn't say a lot. He takes coaching. (Running backs coach) Bobby (Turner) coaches those guys extremely hard. He never takes it personally. He's always trying to get better. He's extremely tough. Had to play through some injuries. So far, he has shown he's got what it takes to make it in this league."
"Did you watch the film today as a team?" a reporter asked.
"Yes," Shanahan said. "I always make little notes on our computers that go with plays, and I write, 'WIT,' which stands for what it takes, or what it takes to win football games. I go back to Elijah's second run of the game -- I think it was the fourth play of the game. It was 1st and 10, we ran power and he got stopped at the line of scrimmage, but he and Juszczyk kept driving their feet and he get seven yards and made it 2nd and 3. It's a little play in the game, but that play to me shows everything. You need stuff like that. That's what it's going to take to win."
A major reason for the 49ers' four-game losing streak was the loss of Mostert. If Mitchell can pick up where he left off, the offense will flourish.