Why Kyle Shanahan Placed Trey Sermon Inactive in Week 1

Kyle Shanahan explains the healthy scratch of running back Trey Sermon against the Lions.
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One of the more shocking moves the San Francisco 49ers made prior to facing the Detroit Lions was the healthy scratch of running back Trey Sermon.

Sermon has been a player who has seen a sizeable amount of reps with the first-team in both training camp and the preseason. To see him not available for the 49ers against the Lions was quite the development and huge eyebrow raiser. Kyle Shanahan spoke on a conference call and explained why they placed Sermon inactive in Week 1.

"I think he handled it like a pro," said Shanahan on Sermon's placement on the inactive list. "He battled some injuries throughout training camp. So did Elijah [Mitchell]. Hasty got some opportunities in the preseason and looked good. Elijah came in and looked a little bit ahead of him in the limited play that he got, and no one was passing up Raheem [Mostert].

"You can only get three guys up and it's not an easy decision, but that's part of the NFL. It's a matter of time. We haven't gone through a year here where we haven't started at least four different backs. Now we're into Week 2 and he's up regardless and I expect him to come in and play at a high level and keep getting better. There is a reason why we drafted him. We have a lot of confidence in him."

So Elijah Mitchell is the reason Shanahan elected to place Sermon inactive. Both players dealt with injuries, yet one player was able to make more of their opportunities than the other. It ended up working out for the 49ers against the Lions as Mitchell rushed for 104 yards on 19 carries and a score. 

While it was sweet to see Mitchell light it up, it is a bit of a concern that Sermon, who the 49ers traded up to get in the third round, is already being placed on the inactive list. It usually isn't a good thing when a fairly weighted draft pick can't beat out undrafted free agents and late round draft prospects. 

Sermon will get his chance by default in Week 2 against the Philadelphia Eagles with Raheem Mostert out for eight weeks due to chipped cartilage in his knee. Still, I would guess that Shanahan is going to run Mitchell the most out of all his running backs given how solid he looked against the Lions.