49ers Rumors: Duke Johnson, Lamar Miller to Work out for SF amid RB Injuries

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 20, 2021

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - DECEMBER 13: Houston Texans running back Duke Johnson #25 runs against the Chicago Bears during the first half at Soldier Field on December 13, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers are bringing in free-agent running backs Duke Johnson and Lamar Miller for visits, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan confirmed T.J. Yeldon is also on the team's list of running back invites. 

The Niners have already lost Raheem Mostert to season-ending knee surgery. They have since seen Trey Sermon, Elijah Mitchell and JaMycal Hasty all get injured as well.

Matt Maiocco @MaioccoNBCS

<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/49ers?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#49ers</a> postgame injury report:<br>DT Kevin Givens (ankle)<br>RB Elijah Mitchell (shoulder)<br>RB JaMycal Hasty (ankle)<br>RB Trey Sermon (concussion)

San Francisco's situation is putting the Shanahan's reputation to the test.

Throughout his career, he has helped elevate the running backs on his roster. Mitchell was the most recent example after he ran for 104 yards and one touchdown in the team's 41-33 Week 1 win over the Detroit Lions.

Josh Dubow @JoshDubowAP

Since Kyle Shanahan took over <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/49ers?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#49ers</a> in 2017, the Niners have paid $25M to Tevin Coleman/Jerick McKinnon and now used 3rd, 4th and 6th round picks on RBs. In that same time, undrafted players have 66% of rushing yards from the team's running backs

There's a reason Miller, Johnson and Yeldon are available in the middle of the season.

Miller was a Pro Bowler in 2018 but made one appearance between the 2019 and 2020 seasons after tearing his ACL in August 2019. 

Johnson averaged 3.1 yards per carry in 11 games with the Houston Texans last year. His 2.5 receptions and 22.6 receiving yards per game were career lows as well.

Yeldon spent the last two seasons with the Buffalo Bills, for whom he ran for 133 yards in nine games. That followed a forgettable four-year run with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Niners already added another castoff, Kerryon Johnson, to their practice squad. The Detroit Lions jettisoned Johnson, a second-round pick in 2018, after just three seasons.

In terms of adding badly needed depth to the backfield, San Francisco appears to have plenty of possible solutions. None of options on the table looks all that attractive, though.

Perhaps this is merely another opportunity for Shanahan to display his offensive expertise.