Note: On August 31, the 49ers cut Trey Sermon. He might wind up on another active roster or on a practice squad before the start of the season. We are keeping the following content for historical reference.
1Early-season role could hint at 49ers’ investment level
It didn’t take long for Trey Sermon to transition from “future starter” to “fantasy irrelevant.” Despite getting drafted in the third round last year, Sermon lost out to sixth-rounder Elijah Mitchell after Raheem Mostert was lost for the season. A Week 12 ankle injury prematurely ended his surprisingly muted rookie campaign.
To regain some fantasy footing, Sermon doesn’t need to win the starting job out of camp (highly unlikely) or even the No. 2 role (slim but possible). He simply needs to get on the field. In nine games last season, he played zero offensive snaps four times and one or two offensive snaps twice. Steady work — even minor work as a three- or four-touch option — would demonstrate that the 49ers remain invested in his on-the-field development. That’s essentially the first hurdle he needs to leap.
2Can he overtake Jeff Wilson Jr.?
Can Sermon push past Jeff Wilson Jr. on the depth chart? Wilson will be a 27-year-old free agent after this season. If Sermon has a great camp and starts the year as the No. 2 RB, he will almost certainly get some complementary work during the season and perhaps some spot starts.
3X-factor: how good is Sermon?
The X-factor for Sermon is his own talent. The 49ers drafted him three rounds earlier than Mitchell for a reason (or rather, many reasons). Recent 49ers teams have had a history of landing a supposed No. 1 RB, only to see them replaced a year later (or sometimes a month later). Mitchell clearly has what it takes to thrive in the NFL. But if Sermon can be the player this team thought they drafted, he could lead this backfield by midseason.