NFL Trade Deadline Live Updates: Ratings, Winners & Losers, Reaction & Analysis of Notable Deals

Earlier today, the 49ers traded running back Jeff Wilson to the Miami Dolphins:

Why did the 49ers trade RB Jeff Wilson?

Kyle Shanahan on Sunday seemed to be enjoying having Wilson and Christian McCaffrey in the same backfield, which the 49ers did eight times in their win over the Rams. Wilson is a good runner between the tackles, but he’s also been a consistent pass catcher for the past four and a half seasons. The 49ers took advantage in the first play when two Rams defensemen covered McCaffrey and Jimmy Garoppolo found Wilson open for a nine-yard gain.

None of the other tailbacks on the team can recreate this captivating combination. Still, the 49ers simply have plenty of other traffic jams. Elijah Mitchell, their main rusher of 2021, is expected to return from injured reserve next week as the team tries to develop rookies Tyrion Davis-Price and Jordan Mason, who weren’t carried away in Sunday’s win.

Meanwhile, Deebo Samuel should still get a few carries per game while Tevin Coleman – who has some similarities to Wilson – is on the practice squad.

The 49ers love Wilson, but their abundance in the position — plus the fact that Wilson will be a free agent in March — made it hard to resist a fifth-round pick.

What’s the running back plan now?

The plan will be to alternate McCaffrey and Mitchell, who is faster than Wilson and picked up the 49ers’ one-cut-and-go philosophy at fullback last year much faster than most rookies. Shanahan and his trainers love Mitchell’s combination of power and speed. And though he and McCaffrey will alternate throughout a game, Mitchell will likely get carries early while McCaffrey, the top receiver, is on the field on third downs.

Mitchell, of course, has built a long injury history in a short time in San Francisco and is currently coming back from an MCL sprain. In case he comes down again, the 49ers will lean more heavily on third-round pick Davis-Price. Coleman, who also has good speed, would be elevated from the practice squad in this scenario.