Why 49ers fans shouldn’t be upset with Tyrion Davis-Price in Round 3 – Niner Noise

Science & Technology

Tyrion Davis-Price #3 of the LSU Tigers (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
The 49ers made an awfully surprising NFL Draft pick in Round 3 with LSU running back Tyrion Davis-Price, but it might not be as big a botch as you think.
Combing through nearly every 2022 NFL Draft review and recap out there, it’s pretty safe to assume most draft analysts and pundits weren’t fans of the San Francisco 49ers’ first of two Round 3 picks.
Do you remember, the selection of former LSU running back Tyrion Davis-Price? You should. It was arguably the one Niners selection that made you scratch your head for a bit.
The general consensus was twofold. First, Davis-Price wasn’t exactly projected to be a day-two pick, and there were others who carried more accolades and stock into the draft. Second, San Francisco already has a decent halfback room, headlined by second-year pro Elijah Mitchell, who set a rookie franchise record in 2021 with 963 rush yards.
Simply put, and in light of other needs the 49ers had, grabbing the 6-foot-0 and 211-pound tailback sure seemed like a reach of reaches.
But it might not be quite as bad as you think.
At the risk of doing what nearly everyone does after every questionable draft choice, talking ourselves into being OK with the selection, the pick of Davis-Price does make sense from a personnel standpoint.
Last year, each one of the Niners’ running backs suffered some sort of injury. Mitchell missed six games, Jeff Wilson Jr. missed the first half of the year with a meniscus tear, JaMycal Hasty was banged up at times, and Trey Sermon ended up dealing with injuries late in the year, too, after failing to lock down a bona fide role early in the season.
It’s partially the nature of the position.
San Francisco has carried five running backs on its regular-season roster before, so that’s not entirely a foreign concept, especially within head coach Kyle Shanahan’s run-first offense.
Despite only playing one full season as a starter at LSU, Davis-Price does come with a relatively clean bill of health and no significant injury history.
That’s important, but there are bigger reasons why the pick makes some sense.
Shanahan primarily runs an outside-zone blocking scheme. But there’s a sense that’s all he does.
As our friend over at Niners Nation, Kyle Posey, pointed out this particular breakdown, Shanahan has introduced different blocking concepts as his offense has evolved, including power runs, man-gap plays and so on:
First, let’s clear something up. The 49ers are no longer a wide-zone team. Since 2019, the 49ers have sprinkled more and more “gap” or “man” schemes into their running game. In 2021, we saw more offensive lineman pulling for the Niners than I can remember.
The selection of offensive guard Aaron Banks in Round 2 of the 2022 NFL Draft is another example. Banks is more of a power blocker than someone who excels in zone.
Posey also added this, too.
Read More: Trey Sermon to be forced out by Tyrion Davis-Price?
What many teams did late last season was to force San Francisco to run between the tackles, and the 49ers’ ground game largely faltered late in the year and into the playoffs, unless wide receiver Deebo Samuel was carrying the ball.
Davis-Price, taking advantage of his physicality and size, is going to have a better chance of success on plays like these compared to more outside-zone type tailbacks like Mitchell. That’ll matter.
Again, it’s more than OK to question the 49ers’ pick of the rookie in Round 3. Nothing wrong with that.
But if he pans out much more than Sermon a year ago, there’ll be awfully few complaints.
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