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What Raheem Mostert’s knee injury means for the 49ers, Trey Sermon, Elijah Mitchell and fantasy football owners

Raheem Mostert missed half of the 2020 NFL season with an ankle injury. Now it looks like he will miss half of the 2021 season due to yet another leg injury.

Mostert carried the ball twice over 20 yards in the 49ers’ 41-33 victory over the Lions in Week 1. After that he left the game and was initially deemed doubtful to come back with a knee injury. He was then excluded.

49ers coach Kyle Shanahan announced Monday that Mostert has grazed cartilage in his knee. He will miss eight weeks and will require surgery, according to ESPN’s Nick Wagoner.

Mostert has played 25 games for the 49ers in the past two and more seasons. He averaged 5.4 yards per carry while facing injury.

Mostert should be back around the middle of the season; what will the 49ers do until then? And what back will Shanahan lean on? Here’s what you need to know about the impact of Mostert’s injury on the 49ers – and fantasy football owners.

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How Raheem Mostert’s injury impacts Trey Sermon

The biggest beneficiary of Mostert’s injury figures is Sermon. The third round rookie was an inactive surprise for the 49ers in Week 1, but it’s now almost certain that he will dress for Week 2 against the Eagles.

Sermon didn’t play in Week 1 as he was less valuable to special teams than Elijah Mitchell and JaMycal Hasty, but he did function as the 49ers’ No.2 running back for most of the pre -season. He is listed as the best replacement behind Mostert on the 49ers depth chart.

Sermon recorded 16 carries for 63 yards in the preseason. He was a good runner between tackles in college and averaged 7.5 yards per carry in his final season at Ohio State. He totaled 524 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns in his last two full games with Ohio State, against Northwestern in the Big Ten Championship game and Clemson in the College Football Playoff.

Sermon has only averaged 12 catches per season over his four-year college career, so the 49ers will likely be looking for him to be just a solid inside runner with Mostert out. He’s not as devious or explosive as Mostert but can wear down his defenses.

While Sermon is expected to take Mostert’s place in the rotation, it’s unclear whether he will become San Francisco’s best option or be the best save given Mitchell’s strong performances in Week 1.

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How Raheem Mostert’s injury impacts Elijah Mitchell

Mitchell was active before Sermon in week 1 and took advantage of Mostert’s absence. Mitchell assumed the charge against a weak Lions run defense with a record 19 runs. He ran for 109 yards, including 38 on that touchdown run.

The sixth-round rookie looked explosive against Detroit. He has also shown that he is faster than Sermon. Mitchell clocked 4.32 seconds in the 40-yard sprint on his pro day, while Sermon clocked 4.58 on his pro day. If Shanahan is looking for a player closer to the fast and sly Mostert – who scored a 4.32 in the 40s on his professional day – then Mitchell might be the better choice.

Shanahan can also choose to roll with the hot hand despite Sermon’s higher draft status. He and his father, Mike, have trusted little-known full-backs and sixth-round prospects like Alfred Morris and Terrell Davis in the past, with excellent results. Don’t be surprised if Mitchell gets as many, if not more, opportunities than Sermon does.

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Who is the 49ers handcuff to own in fantasy football?

If you can’t put Mitchell on the waiver wire, then Hasty is the best handcuff option. Hasty only had one carry over against Detroit, but he turned it into a 3-yard touchdown. He also had a two-game streak in 2021 where he totaled 104 yards of scrimmage and one touchdown on 23 touches.

He could be a decent replacement if Sermon or Mitchell runs out of time. Feel free to post him if you need more depth, but don’t expect him to be a contributor right away. He will probably play more in special teams early on.

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49ers RB Depth Chart

This is how the 49ers full-back depth chart deals with Mostert’s injury. The order is smooth considering Shanahan’s tendency to mix things up when going back.

Rank Player
1 Trey’s sermon
2 Elie Mitchell
3 JaMycal Hasty
4 Josh Hokit *

* Practice team player.

The race for the No.1 position between Sermon and Mitchell is likely close after Week 1, but the 49ers official website lists Sermon ahead of Mitchell. These two will play an important role in the racing game in the future.

It should be noted that San Francisco also has Jeff Wilson Jr. on the roster. He’s currently on the PUP roster, however, so he’ll need to miss at least six games before he can be activated. Wilson led the 49ers with 600 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns in 2020.

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