49ers running back Jeff Wilson fights for roster spot, scores two TDs

49ers running back Jeff Wilson fights for roster spot, scores two TDs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — After making an appearance in six games for the 49ers in 2018, including starting in two, running back Jeff Wilson finds himself playing to prove he’s worthy in a loaded backfield. 

Wilson made a nice case for himself Saturday night in the 49ers' 27-17 preseason win over the Chiefs. He led the 49ers with 45 rushing yards on 12 carries and scored two touchdowns. 

“He came back bigger,” Shanahan said. “He put some weight on. He runs more. His style is more like a bigger back, especially compared to our other guys, but he has always been that same weight. He came back about 15 pounds heavier.” 

Wilson sat out of the first preseason game because of a calf injury, but he has gradually worked his way back into the mix. This made his showing in Kansas City even more important. 

“He got hurt early on, so we have not been able to look at him since he has been healthy,” Shanahan said. “He shows that he carries that weight well and he looks like a very similar runner to what he was last year, but when you are running the same and you have added 15 to 20 pounds, that is a good thing.”

Wilson gave credit to the entire offense when asked about his touchdowns. 

“I was just trying to get one-on-one on the first one and that happened," Wilson said. "I had space. So, I took it to the outside and tried to outrun them. On the second one, that was all up to my O-line and the receivers. 

“Jordan Matthews made a great block that helped come off the back side and that gave me a good clear vision of the endzone. Kudos to him and the O-line for doing their jobs.”

Jimmy Garoppolo and first-team offense were much more productive in Kansas City than they were in Denver. Wilson explained that the momentum has been carried over throughout the entire team. 

“Everybody is gelling,” Wilson said. “Everybody is getting a feel for each other. Everybody knows what to expect. Everybody knows what we’re trying to accomplish on offense. It’s all going in one direction and we’re going to try to keep that going.”

[RELATED: Jimmy G takes 'another step in right direction' for 49ers]

With Wilson stepping up his productivity, Shanahan knows the decisions he will have to make whittling down the roster to 53 players, will be even more difficult. 

“I think he ran pretty well in this game tonight,” Shanahan said. “I think he ran well last week and we will see how he does in this final one. We will have to make a decision on a bunch of guys.”

Fantasy football waiver wire: Giants' Wayne Gallman among Week 4 targets


Fantasy football waiver wire: Giants' Wayne Gallman among Week 4 targets

You don't want to rush to judgment in fantasy football, but now that nearly a quarter of the fantasy regular season has come and gone, the sample size is getting large enough to make better-informed decisions.

That tight end that still isn't getting any targets? Yeah, probably time to cut bait.

That running back you took in the early rounds that hasn't found paydirt yet? There's still plenty of season left.

How your first three weeks have gone likely will have a determining impact on how you approach the Week 4 waiver wire. If you're sitting pretty, build up that depth. If you're in dire straits, it might be time to make some riskier, higher-ceiling plays. Week 4 also marks the beginning of bye weeks, with both the 49ers and Jets off this coming week.

Only you can know what your specific team needs. With that in mind, here are four non-quarterbacks to keep in mind for waiver claims Tuesday morning, all of whom could reinvigorate your squad and are owned in fewer than 15 percent of Yahoo and ESPN fantasy leagues.

Wayne Gallman, New York Giants RB

1 percent owned in Yahoo leagues, 1 percent owned in ESPN

Saquon Barkley was the consensus No. 1 pick in fantasy drafts this season, but after suffering a high ankle sprain against the Buccaneers in Week 3, the reigning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year is expected to miss multiple weeks. That leaves a gaping hole in New York's offense, and someone has to take over the resulting void.

Enter Wayne Gallman.

Gallman isn't special, nor is the Giants' offense, but given the volume he is expected to demand in Barkley's absence, he's definitely worth a waiver claim. Rookie quarterback Daniel Jones is clearly far more dynamic than the statue that preceded him, which should make it tougher for opposing defenses to load up the box. Depending on the severity of Barkley's injury, Gallman probably should be the top overall waiver add this week.

Darrel Williams, Kansas City Chiefs RB

1 percent owned in Yahoo leagues, <1 percent owned in ESPN

You want pieces of Kansas City's offense. I repeat: You want pieces of Kansas City's offense.

Okay, so that isn't all that groundbreaking. Such logic was prevalent back when fantasy drafts were being held, when the diminutive Darwin Thompson was commonly regarded as a top sleeper pick, someone who could eventually grab hold of all or part of the Chiefs' backfield and run with it.

Well, that was half-right.

With Damien Williams out and LeSean McCoy severely banged up, Darrel Williams -- not Thompson -- got the start at running back for Kansas City against the Ravens, and proceeded to rush nine times for 62 yards and catch five passes for another 47 receiving yards on Sunday.

McCoy aggravated his ankle injury in the second half and did not return. Damien Williams is still the starter, assuming he's healthy, but Darrel Williams appears to be the next man up for the job if it opens.

[RELATED: Grading Raiders' offense, defense in ugly loss vs. Vikings]

Parris Campbell, Indianapolis Colts WR

4 percent owned in Yahoo leagues, 4 percent owned in ESPN

The Colts' offense was supposed to fall off after Andrew Luck retired, but that simply hasn't proven to be true. Quarterback Jacoby Brissett has done an admirable job stepping into Luck's former role, as he's now thrown for seven touchdowns through three weeks, compared to only one interception. Meanwhile, running back Marlon Mack ranks third in the league in rushing.

Having T.Y. Hilton on the outside has helped to open things up for the offense, but the receiver might not be there next week after aggravating a quad injury in the win over the Falcons. Hilton has scored at least one touchdown in every game this season, and if he were to miss any extended time, there would be an abundance of targets there for the taking.

Parris Campbell was Indianapolis' first-round draft pick last April, and the speed demon seems like the best bet to assume Hilton's role. With upcoming matchups against the Raiders and Chiefs, he could put up some big numbers if he gets the opportunity.

[RELATED: Grading 49ers' offense, defense in gritty win vs. Steelers]

Damien Harris, New England Patriots RB

11 percent owned in Yahoo leagues, 5 percent owned in ESPN

This is a pure bench stash play ... for now.

Guessing which running back Bill Belichick will favor on any given week is traditionally next-to-impossible, but alas, some of us like to live dangerously.

If Sony Michel is on your squad, you have been living dangerously. New England's No. 1 back coming into the season rushed nine times for a grand total of 11 paltry yards on Sunday, five of which came on a performance-salvaging touchdown. Michel has now failed to eclipse 85 total yards in any game this season, all while averaging less than 2.5 yards per carry.

If Belichick were to lose patience with Michel, Damien Harris might become the primary back for one of the top offenses in the league. New England used a third-round draft pick on Harris this past April, and while he was inactive the first two weeks, he's been regarded as Michel's most likely handcuff. 

Yes, there's also James White and Rex Burkhead to deal with, but both of them are more in the pass-catching vein. If Harris ever gets a legitimate shot, he might prove to be a league-winner.

Watch Kyle Shanahan give victory speech after 49ers win vs. Steelers

Watch Kyle Shanahan give victory speech after 49ers win vs. Steelers

"That's as cool of a win as I've ever been a part of."

It wasn't pretty, but the 49ers got the job done Sunday, defeating the visiting Steelers 24-20 to improve to 3-0 on the young season. In the locker room following the win, San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan greeted his boisterous team, and reminded the 49ers of what they had just accomplished.

"It was what we thought. We knew we would get their best," Shanahan shouted, "but we got different character this year, man."

He specifically credited the defense for holding Pittsburgh to just two field goals in the first half despite four turnovers by the offense.

"When you have five turnovers like that, it is hard to win in this league. You have to be good players, but you also have special people. You guys didn't waiver the whole game. Can't appreciate you guys enough for that."

Shanahan then issued his team a challenge: "How much better can we get, though?

"We can get better. We can get a lot better, men," he answered as the locker room reverberated in agreement.

[RELATED: Grading 49ers' offense, defense in gritty win vs. Steelers]

Shanahan proceeded to lay out the upcoming practice schedule, as the 49ers now enter their bye week. A perfect time to get better.