The San Fransisco 49ers can empathize with the Baltimore Ravens' injury woes.
In the 49ers' Week 2 game against the Philadelphia Eagles, they suffered injuries to their top three running backs. The injuries aren't season-ending ones like the Ravens suffered, but they're still injuries that should make the 49ers consider signing a free agent.
The 49ers are a run-heavy team at heart. Kyle Shanahan's offenses are at their best when there's a reliable ground game. Jimmy Garoppolo benefits from having a running back to take the pressure off him. While Jamycal Hasty, Elijah Mitchell, and Trey Sermon recover, here are three names the 49ers should take a look at.
3 running backs the 49ers should target in the free agent market
#1 - Duke Johnson
The 49ers brought in Duke Johnson for a workout on Monday, a man who fits the 49ers' scheme better than any free agent on the market.
Johnson is an underrated runner who excels as a pass-catcher out of the backfield. Shanahan's offense loves to throw to running backs, which is why he's the best option for the scheme fit.
Johnson turns 28 Thursday but has plenty of tread left on his tires. His career-high in carries in his six-year career was just 104 in his rookie year. He's also incredibly durable and has only missed five games in his career.
He's averaged 4.9 yards or more per carry three times, and averages 9.2 yards per reception. He's the best running back on the market and the 49ers should strongly consider bring him on board.
#2 - Todd Gurley
Todd Gurley's been in the league for as long as Johnson has. He's a year younger but has had much higher usage.
Gurley's been unsigned for a while now and it's fair to wonder if that's for good reason. That said, the 49ers have Super Bowl aspirations and sometimes that involves taking a gamble.
If Gurley is healthy, he's a beast running through the tackles. He had 30 combined touchdowns in 2017 and 2018, and averaged 4.2 yards per carry in his carry on 1,460 attempts.
His knees have failed him the past two seasons but he could find a role as a rotational piece. Gurley's best years are in the rear-view mirror. But if there's a coach that could give him a viable second chance, it's Shanahan.
#3 - Chris Thompson
Chris Thompson isn't the most polarizing name on this list, and he's a veteran of eight years who fits the 49ers' scheme of pass-catching running backs.
Thompson was on the team before getting cut in training camp this summer. He doesn't offer as much rushing ability as Gurley or Johnson, but he's made his career off playing the scatback role of catching passes.
Thompson has averaged 8.3 yards per reception in his career on 232 receptions. The only catch is his durability. He's played 16 games just once in his career and was placed on IR last season after eight games. The 49ers, though, don't have too many options at the moment, and could kick tires on Thompson to alleviate their injury troubles.
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