Last season, few running backs were as efficient as Matt Breida on a per-touch basis. The second year, undrafted back out of Georgia Southern averaged 5.3 yards per carry and 9.7 yards per reception, both very impressive marks, especially when you consider San Francisco was playing with backup quarterbacks for most of the season.
The issue for Breida last season was health, specifically his ability to stay on the field for long stretches. While he played in 14 games when all was said and done, Breida was frequently listed as questionable or doubtful on the injury report, and was also prone to being pulled from games after getting dinged. It resulted in him only getting 180 touches last year, which he turned into 1,075 scrimmage yards and five touchdowns.
Due to his durability concerns, the 49ers signed Tevin Coleman from the Falcons on a two-year deal. Coleman is expected to receive lead back duties to start the season, at least on most early downs and in goal line situations. Coleman is also an underrated pass catcher, with a career 11 yards per reception mark.
While Breida is the clear number two RB heading into the season, the San Fran backfield could be less crowded than expected if Jerick McKinnon, another former free-agent acquisition, starts the season on injured reserve. If that's the case, McKinnon would miss at least the first eight weeks of the season, making the 49ers backfield a true one-two punch with Coleman and Breida.
While Breida is currently a very buzzy name in fantasy, partly due to his average draft position (ADP) of RB44, or pick 118 overall, expectations should be kept in check due to his reduced role in a committee backfield. Still, the 49ers ran the ball very well last year, ranking 12th in yards per carry. With Garoppolo back in the fold, the offense should only improve in 2019, opening up even more running lanes for both Coleman and Breida.
So while San Fran is probably going to cap Breida's touches to keep him healthy, he can still exceed last year's total on an offense fully capable of feeding two running backs. His upside isn't as high as some other late-round backs, but Breida's efficiency should make him a solid flex option in most fantasy leagues this season.
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