49ers News: Matt Breida Signs 1-Year Contract Tender; Ran for 623 Yards in 2019

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistApril 16, 2020

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - DECEMBER 08: Matt Breida #22 of the San Francisco 49ers runs the ball during a NFL game against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes Benz Superdome on December 08, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Matt Breida will return to the San Francisco 49ers after signing a one-year deal on Thursday, the club announced.

Breida ran for 623 yards and one touchdown while catching 19 passes for 120 yards and one score in 13 games for the 49ers.

A second successive season-ending injury to Jerick McKinnon appeared to open the door for Breida to get more touches out of San Francisco's backfield, even with the addition of Tevin Coleman. However, Raheem Mostert leapfrogged him in the pecking order en route to finishing as the team's leading rusher (772 yards).

That spoke largely to Mostert's rise rather than any sort of step backward by Breida. The 25-year-old averaged 5.1 yards per carry and ranked 26th in DYAR (defense-adjusted yards above replacement) among 45 running backs with at least 100 carries, per Football Outsiders.

With their three-headed monster of Breida, Mostert and Coleman, the Niners averaged 144.1 rushing yards per game, second-best in the NFL.

Breida's explosiveness, in particular, makes him a proverbial home run threat. Give him a running lane and he can torch an opposing defense.

Whether intentional or not, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan began minimizing Breida's usage starting with the team's Week 14 win over the New Orleans Saints. From that game on—including the postseason—Breida logged 22 combined carries.

"We didn't go in not planning for him to not have any plays on offense," Shanahan told reporters after Breida didn't play a single offensive snap in a Week 16 victory over the Los Angeles Rams. "It just worked out that way."

Shanahan didn't say anything critical but underscored how the former Georgia Southern star was a luxury piece rather than a necessity for the offense. And in order to get a bigger role, leaving the Bay Area was Breida's best bet.

Mostert turned 28 in April, though, and Coleman has one more year left on his contract. The 49ers might view Breida as the best long-term option. And San Francisco is somewhere he clearly feels comfortable.

Shanahan discovered the right formula to build around Jimmy Garoppolo in 2019. While Garoppolo was capable of delivering the occasional 300-yard game, the ground game helped set the tone.

Based on Breida's return, little will change for San Francisco in 2020.

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