When you think of Kyle Shanahan's offense, it all stems from the team’s ability to run the ball. It is the identity of his offense, and it bleeds into every aspect of his team, from schemes to personnel.
No more proof is needed of that fact than the NFC Championship game where Jimmy Garoppolo attempted only 8 passes and defeated perennial All Pro Aaron Rodgers in a 37-20 victory to go to the Super Bowl.
Another staple of a Kyle Shanahan offense is he stays away from highly-drafted rookies quarterbacks. His most successful years came with Kirk Cousin (a fourth-round draft pick) and Matt Ryan who was nine years into his career when he went to the Super Bowl with Shanahan.
The likelihood of Shanahan drafting a rookie QB in the first round of this year’s draft is highly unlikely. So who in the first round can significantly upgrade the 49ers team?
Harris is hands down the best running back in this year’s draft, and some say the most elite back to come into the draft the past few years. Last year alone he had almost 1500 yards rushing, with 26 touchdowns, and nearly 6 yards per carry with Alabama. He has the strength to break through tackles at the line, with the speed to separate from the secondary, not to mention the athleticism to give you an “Oh my God” moment at least once a game.
With the kind of holes Shanahan schemes up, Harris would feast in the 49ers offense. It would give the 49ers an elite RB for a team that is built around the run. The most impressive aspect of Harris though is his mentality. He is a team-first leader who wants to be great. On the Pat McAfee show, Harris said the reason he chose to go the Alabama was because of the competition everyday in the practice. He wanted to compete to become the greatest. Just recently Harris was in the news because he drove nine hours to Alabama’s Pro Day after his flight was cancelled just to support his teammates. That type of mentality and leadership is rare and would be a huge asset to any team.
Now I know most of 49ers nation is looking for the team to go cornerback or quarterback in the first round, but the reality is Shanahan does not draft QBs in the first round, and none of the corners that have a first round grade are world beaters. Harris, however, has All Pro written all over him.
The biggest upside would be the 49ers would not have to pick him at 12. They could trade back and pick up more second-round picks, where they can find their quarterback, cornerback and safety of the future. The earliest Harris could get drafted is possibly to Miami at 18, and probably won't drop past 24 to the Steelers. This would give the 49ers the ability to trade back with teams who may be chasing one of the quarterbacks or wide receivers who may drop.
Mostert and Wilson Jr are both solid running back options for the 49ers, however neither has proven to stay healthy as the bell cow. Adding Harris as the lead dog, behind a revamped offensive line starring Trent Williams and Alex Mack, would give the 49ers an unstoppable rushing attack.
With Jimmy G most likely returning as the 49ers starter next season, drafting Harris may give them their best chance to contend for another Superbowl.