Attacking on the ground is a staple of the 49ers offense.
No one knows how to be lethal in this area more than Kyle Shanahan. However, the 49ers will be rolling into Sunday night with a running back room that is patched up with duct tape.
Elijah Mitchell who started against the Eagles is "very, very questionable" according to John Lynch on KNBR as. JaMycal Hasty is also out for the foreseeable future with a high-ankle sprain and Raheem Mostert is out for the year. That just leaves Trey Sermon as the only familiar running back to rely upon, which Shanahan doesn't seem to view him highly. Not to mention he is coming off of a game he just sustained a concussion. The 49ers cannot run him into the ground, which is why the 49ers have signed multiple backs in the last week.
"Yeah, there is a part of just preparing what you can call and what you cannot call with certain people." said Mike McDaniels on the limitations of the running back room "Because again, it's a short time span from when they got in the building. So, you want them to operate full-speed and be fair to them and let them play fast. So, you think through it, make sure that schematically you don't do anything that challenges their brain too much because their job is to carry a football and not get tackled. And it's hard to do that when you're thinking too much.”
This is why I believe Trey Lance could see sizeable playing time against the Packers.
Utilizing Lance would be an excellent way to help maintain the running game. Now I am not saying to run him to the ground either or to just simply use him on read-option plays. If he is out there, then there will be another factor to account for on the defensive side that can aid the running game. What I mean by sizeable playing time is roughly 10 snaps.
Of course, this is only if Shanahan decides to stick to his guns with his dedication of running the ball. The could easily pivot towards using Jimmy Garoppolo and hoping he has some consistency that night to keep the chains moving. How the 49ers have dominated the Packers in recent years outside of a mean pass rush is ball control. That was a staple of the ground attack. But with limitations at running back, that can be tough to achieve even against an average defense like the Packers.
Rolling in Lance can give the 49ers the ultimate threat in some situations. Being that it is a primetime game, I would not put it past Shanahan to let his rookie quarterback toss it deep to let him shine. It would be a great look on Lance and Shanahan for that to happen, especially if he is part of the reason the offense is clicking.
There is only so much the 49ers can rely upon with their newly signed running backs. At least with Lance they have a chance to keep it sustainable throughout the game.