No one on the 49ers has more to lose in training camp than running back Tevin Coleman.
Coleman currently is the 13th-most expensive player on the 49ers in 2020. He will cost the 49ers $4.868 million this upcoming season -- more than Kwon Alexander, Weston Richburg, Jimmie Ward, K’Waun Williams, Raheem Mostert, Jerick McKinnon and George Kittle.
Coleman isn’t outrageously expensive, but he is the 49ers’ highest-paid running back. They have Mostert, who’s better than Coleman. And they have McKinnon who’s better than Coleman when healthy.
Meaning Coleman might be the third-best running back on the 49ers. He averaged merely 4 yards per carry last season -- below the NFL average of 4.3 yards per carry.
Unless he improves and legitimately wins the starting job during training camp, the 49ers could ask him to take a pay cut. And he might accept one. But if he refuses, the 49ers could trade him and create $2.868 million in salary-cap space, then use that money to sign free agent tight end Jordan Reed or free agent tight end Delanie Walker.
And Coleman wouldn’t be difficult to replace. The 49ers don’t need to spend nearly $5 million per season for a measly 4 yards per carry. One of their undrafted rookie running backs -- JaMycal Hasty or Salvon Ahmed -- probably can average more yards per carry than Coleman for a fraction of the price. Remember, Matt Breida averaged 4.4 yards per carry for the 49ers as an undrafted rookie in 2017. Young, unknown running backs have succeeded in this offense before.
So when training camp begins, Coleman better come to play.
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