Jeff Wilson Jr. confident 49ers’ Ty Davis-Price, Jordan Mason ready to step up

SANTA CLARA — The 49ers will have to move forward without Elijah Mitchell for a while, but Jeff Wilson Jr. thinks their running back group has what it takes.

Each season since Kyle Shanahan has been the head coach of the 49ers, there have been different leading rushers on the team. The trend will likely continue into 2022 with Mitchell out of action for about two months.

Wilson Jr. spoke to NBC Sports Bay Area on Thursday and shared that rookies Ty Davis-Price and Jordan Mason feel the sense of urgency with Mitchell sidelined and are both ready to step in when they’re called.

“They understand the task at hand,” Wilson Jr. said. “Obviously there’s room to improve and things to learn, but as far as the recovery goes, they’re doing a really good job. “

The challenge of playing in Shanahan’s attack is not only the complexity of the running job itself, but also taking into account the Deebo Samuel factor. When the “wide back” comes onto the pitch as the ball carrier, a ball carrier’s responsibilities will change.

“You really have to know each position,” Wilson Jr. said. “The back, the X, the Z, the Y, because at any time you could be called upon to line up in those different positions. There is a lot to do. You have to lock yourself in, know your task and really study. These guys do.

Shanahan has made a habit of finding late running backs and turning them into household names. Mitchell was a sixth-round pick while Miami Dolphins running back Raheem Mostert, Wilson Jr. and Mason are all undrafted free agents.

Trent Williams has watched Shanahan develop running backs over several seasons and is no longer surprised when an undrafted player thrives in the scheme. The left tackle completely trusts the judgment of his head coach.

“There’s a criteria he’s looking for,” Williams said. “I think he knows what suits his attack best. For him, I don’t think it matters what turn, or where he finds them. If they arrive and show the promise he expects, he will feel comfortable enough to play them.

Wilson sees potential in Davis-Price and Mason. He shared how not knowing your assignments on the pitch can lead to missed opportunities for big plays and neither wants that to happen. Wilson knows what the pressure for a rookie looks like in Shanahan’s plan and thinks both rookies are on the right track.

Perhaps more important is what Wilson sees in the two rookies’ mental approach to the game.

“It’s his mindset,” Wilson Jr. said of Davis-Price. “He doesn’t back down from anyone. It doesn’t matter if it’s big or small, big or small. It does not matter. It will come to you the same way, every game, and keep coming. He’s going to be in trouble.

Wilson had equally positive comments about Mason.

“Tough as nails,” Wilson Jr. said. “Both are smart. To them, your name or how long you’ve been in the league doesn’t matter.”

RELATED: 49ers sign Marlon Mack to train with Mitchell on IR

Both rookies have big shoes to fill if they do get a chance Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks at Levi’s Stadium. Mitchell led the team in rushing in 2021, nearly passing the 1,000 yard mark while being a reliable wide receiver.

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