NFL

One play that sold 49ers on RB Tyrion Davis-Price

The 49ers didn’t draft any running backs between 2018 and 2020. Then they took Trey Sermon in the third round and Elijah Mitchell in the sixth round in 2021, and Tyrion Davis-Price in the third round in 2022. Taking a running back in Round 3 two consecutive years seemed unthinkable, but Davis-Price sold the 49ers with his blend of size, speed and toughness.

Matt Barrows of the Athletic detailed Davis-Price’s rise from Louisiana youth football to the third round of the draft. It’s a fascinating story, but one piece jumps out where Barrows, with the help of assistant general manager Adam Peters, details a play that put Davis-Price on the map for the 49ers. Via the Athletic:

The 49ers saw that zip on film, particularly during LSU’s game against Alabama on Nov. 6. On the 63rd play, Davis-Price broke across the line of scrimmage and within 15 yards hit his highest speed of the season, which according to the 49ers, was among the top five speeds of any of the runners in the draft.

The burst caught their attention.

“A lot of times, guys reach higher speeds because they have the opportunity,” assistant general manager Adam Peters said. “They maybe aren’t as fast as other guys, but because they have the opportunity to run 60 yards in a straight line they reach a high speed. (Davis-Price) reaching his top speed in a short amount of space is more impressive.”

In that game against the Crimson Tide, Davis-Price rushed for 104 yards on 23 carries in a 20-14 loss for the Tigers. It was his third 100-yard game in a stretch where he topped 100 yards in four out of five contests. Going into the 2021 season he’d only eclipsed the 100-yard mark twice in 23 games.

One of the other things the 49ers liked, per Barrows, was how strong Davis-Price ran late in games. A good fourth quarter is a microcosm of his college career.

Davis-Price in his first two years rushed for 741 yards and nine touchdowns on 168 carries in 23 games.

Over his final seven games at LSU he wrecked defenses to the tune of 863 yards and six touchdowns on 166 rushes. He got significantly more productive as his career progressed.

The 49ers are now hoping Davis-Price can continue the trajectory he set for himself during his late-season flurry last year. San Francisco had gone with a running back by committee approach under Shanahan up until last year when Mitchell burst on the scene and took on the lion’s share of the work.

Injuries stacked up in the backfield though and the team struggled to find consistency outside of Mitchell. Davis-Price could be the answer to their question marks behind Mitchell on the depth chart. He’s known for finishing games strong and finished his college career the same way. Now the task will be less about how he finishes, and more about how fast he can start his NFL career.

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