There weren’t many running backs in the NFL better than 49ers rookie Elijah Mitchell. The sixth-round pick was excellent in his first season and the numbers back up what was evident on the field – Mitchell is a budding star.
In his first NFL season out of Louisiana-Lafayette, Mitchell racked up 963 yards on 207 carries in just 11 games. His 963 yards were good for the eighth-most in the NFL among all players and second among rookies.
Here’s what the top eight looks like at the end of the regular season:
1. Jonathan Taylor, Colts: 1,8112. Nick Chubb, Browns: 1,2593. Joe Mixon, Bengals: 1,2054. Najee Harris, Steelers: 1,2005. Dalvin Cook, Vikings: 1,1596. Antonio Gibson, Washington: 1,0377. Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys: 1,0028. Elijah Mitchell, 49ers: 963
That’s very good company for a sixth-round pick. Even more impressive than the raw yardage totals is what Mitchell did on a per-game basis. While in and out of the lineup with injuries, he played in only 11 games, while every player ahead of him on the rushing list played at least 13 contests. He finished fifth among all players in yards per game:
1. Derrick Henry, Titans: 117.12. Jonathan Taylor, Colts: 106.53. Nick Chubb, Browns: 89.94. Dalvin Cook, Vikings: 89.25. Elijah Mitchell, 49ers: 87.5
Mitchell’s per-game pace in 2021 would’ve put him over 1,400 yards in 17 games – a number no 49ers RB has reached since Frank Gore posted 1,695 yards in 2006
The 49ers under head coach Kyle Shanahan and running backs coach Bobby Turner have made a habit of churning out good production from unheralded players. This time they might’ve found a bonafide star in Mitchell.