SANTA CLARA – Throughout Shaun Draughn’s six-year NFL career, he has received a lot of bad news.
Draughn has been waived by seven different teams. Things did not get that bad with the 49ers earlier this season, but after opening the season as the team’s No. 2 running back, he was demoted.
DuJuan Harris and Mike Davis surpassed Draughn on the depth chart early in the regular season. But Draughn eventually regained his status as the top backup to Carlos Hyde.
Draughn is in line for his seventh career start on Sunday when the 49ers close out the regular season against the Seattle Seahawks at Levi’s Stadium. Hyde is out with a MCL sprain of his left knee. Draughn caught six passes for 48 yards in the 49ers' 22-21 comeback victory over the Los Angeles Rams last week to snap a 13-game losing streak.
“It’s one of those things where you have to keep working,” Draughn said. “I’ve been told, ‘No,’ a lot of times in my career but it never stopped me from preparing the way I prepare and coming to work the way I come to work. God allowed me another opportunity to be where I am now, so I’ll try to take advantage of it.”
After signing with the 49ers in November 2015, Draughn set career-highs with 78 carries for 273 yards rushing, and 27 catches for 176 yards.
Draughn already has a career-high with 195 receiving yards this season with 25 receptions. He is averaging just 2.9 yards a carry with 155 yards on 53 rushing attempts.
Coach Chip Kelly said Draughn has tightened up his pass protection as the season has progressed, and that has enabled him to climb up the depth chart.
“He’s worked really hard to get back to it,” Kelly said. “I think he missed some things early in some blitz pickups but has worked really hard with coach (Tom) Rathman on that. (He’s) a guy that we’ve got total confidence in in being back there on third down and he’s done a nice job with it.”
Draughn is scheduled for free agency at the end of the season, so a strong showing Sunday could help him find a spot for the 2017 season.
“Any time you get to start in this league, it’s big,” Draughn said.