49ers’ Isaac Guerendo identifies key reason why he can justify Kyle Shanahan’s latest running back trade

When the San Francisco 49ers traded up in the fourth round to select a running back, plenty of fans might have understandably rolled their eyes.

49ers' Isaac Guerendo identifies key reason why he can justify Kyle Shanahan's latest running back trade

After all, Kyle Shanahan has tried this before. Twice. The 49ers traded up for Joe Williams in the fourth round of Shanahan and Lynch’s first draft in 2017. Williams never played a game. They traded up for Trey Sermon in the third round of the 2021 draft. Sermon was gone after one season. A year later, without a trade this time, the 49ers selected Tyrion Davis-Price in the third round. Davis-Price is no longer on the team, having put up 120 rushing yards over the course of two seasons.

So fans can be forgiven for thinking that the decision to trade up for Louisville’s Isaac Guerendo will be just the latest in a line of running back draft follies by Shanahan and the 49ers.

Yet as an athletic freak who blew up the Combine whose mouthwatering physical traits allowed him to thrive on both zone and gap scheme runs — according to Arjun Menon, Guerendo had 3.13 rush yards over expected on gap runs and 1.53 RYOE on zone runs — there’s reason to believe Guerendo might be the exception.

But beyond the decisiveness, burst and home-run hitting speed that makes Guerendo so enticing, there’s another factor that could stand him in good stead to excel as a backup to Christian McCaffrey and then go on to assume a larger role in the offense.

Experience was a theme of the 49ers’ draft, with San Francisco seemingly making point of adding players with a lot of college football under their belt.

Guerendo played five seasons in college. However, he didn’t feature in more than six games until 2022, his final year at Wisconsin before transferring to Louisville. He played in 14 games for the Cardinal, racking up 810 yards and 11 touchdowns.

But Guerendo is confident his relative inexperience can be a significant plus as he plots his path to a much more concerted role at the NFL level.

“A lot of these guys have been the feature guy pretty much since they were young,” Guerendo said on Thursday ahead of 49ers rookie minicamp.

“They were the guy at their high schools, and they were the guy at their colleges. But I think, for me, it kind of gives me a leg up in the sense that what are these guys gonna do when they aren’t the starter? How are they gonna handle that? How are they gonna move forward with that? I’m going to continue to work hard with whatever it is, but just continuing to embrace that role.”

Guerendo didn’t even have 100 carries in a season until his lone year with Louisville, putting him in an unusual position for a running back entering the pros.

“I think if I were to let it bother me, it probably wouldn’t allow me to be ready for those moments when I did get them,” Guerendo said of his time on the sideline in college. “So I just continued to have that patient mindset so that I could be ready for those moments.”

“I like to think of it as a positive more than anything. People talk about tread on tires, stuff like that. I think that’s an advantage for me. And I think it also kind of leaves out there—I feel like I still have yet to play my best ball. So, continuing to progress and become a better player. I think that’s the exciting thing about it. But I’m going to continue to attack and embrace whatever role I’m given.”

Backing up a starter in Christian McCaffrey who has been exceptionally healthy since joining the 49ers but had previously struggled with injuries, the lack of wear and tear on Guerendo’s body will surely have been part of his appeal to a team that has seen second-stringer Elijah Mitchell fail to finish a full campaign because of injuries.

An excellent scheme fit with outstanding measurables and a limited college carry count that should greatly improve his body’s chances of holding up against, an albeit likely initially limited, NFL workload, Guerendo is better placed than his predecessors to prove Shanahan right for taking a running back, with the lack of immediate pressure to deliver because of the presence of McCaffrey an aid in taking the scrutiny off a player who would normally be subjected to plenty of it.

Indeed, he is a back who, through the colleges he attended, has received an in-depth eduction of how to thrive as a zone and power scheme, without being subjected to the kind of physical toll that might take some of the juice out of his legs.

Guerendo enters the NFL with physical traits begging to be harnessed the way they never were in college. With extraordinary athletic upside and the insurance of playing behind the Offensive Player of the Year who will take the bulk of the workload, Guerendo is excellently positioned to thrive right off the bat while spelling McCaffrey and in the future in a higher-usage role.

The trade up might have brought a few eye rolls. However, whereas Williams and Sermon felt like reaches, the selection of Guerendo feels like an ideal marriage of talent and situation. The 49ers needed to plan for the years to come at running back with much of their backfield bound for free agency next year, and Guerendo has the skill set, and the life in his legs, to prove Shanahan right by demonstrating that he is their future at the position.

Related Posts

Mike McCarthy discusses what he expects from Ezekiel Elliott

UDFA QB John Rhys Plumlee Reveals Why He Chose Steelers

With John Rhys Plumlee seeing action at wide receiver at UCF, there was speculation that he could play wide receiver in the NFL, but he put that…

Zach Frazier explains wearing No. 54 with Pittsburgh Steelers

Zach Frazier can’t help his toughness. It’s embedded in his soul. The Steelers rookie loved Pittsburgh’s physical style of play when he was growing up in West Virginia….

Vikings’ Kevin O’Connell Strikes Down Scrutiny Facing Rookie J.J. McCarthy

Thіѕ ѕtаɡe of the NFL offѕeаѕon іѕ fіlled wіth hіɡhlіɡhtѕ аnd lowlіɡhtѕ of pаdleѕѕ prаctіceѕ — whіch Mіnneѕotа Vіkіnɡѕ coаch Kevіn O’Connell аrɡued to not reаd too…

Justin Simmons has 1 classy request to fans about Broncos rookie

The Denver Broncoѕ hаve ɡotten themѕelveѕ іnto а trіcky cаp ѕіtuаtіon. Denver trаded ѕіɡnіfіcаnt аѕѕetѕ for QB Ruѕѕell Wіlѕon from the Seаttle Seаhаwkѕ two yeаrѕ аɡo. The…

Coveted Free Agent Receiver Turned Down Kansas City Chiefs

Zаy Joneѕ ѕіɡned wіth the Arіzonа Cаrdіnаlѕ on Frіdаy, but before joіnіnɡ the Cаrdіnаlѕ on а one-yeаr deаl, he hаd drаwn іntereѕt from the Kаnѕаѕ Cіty Chіefѕ….