Why would the 49ers select a second running back after trading up for Trey Sermon in the 2021 NFL Draft?
Well, Elijah Mitchell showed everybody why with his third carry as a pro.
The Louisiana product took the toss from Jimmy Garoppolo and scampered through the Detroit Lions' defense for a 38-yard touchdown, and made history in doing so.
Mitchell became the first 49ers running back to have a rushing touchdown in his NFL regular-season debut since Carlos Hyde in the 2014 season. His 38-yard TD also was the longest by a 49ers rookie since Brandon Aiyuk's 38-yard run this past season, and gave the 49ers the lead on their way to a 41-33 season-opening victory on Sunday.
Sermon was a surprise healthy scratch by the 49ers on Sunday, paving the way for Mitchell. Once Raheem Mostert went down with a knee injury, Mitchell took advantage of every opportunity he received. Mitchell finished the day with a game-high 19 carries for 104 yards and the one touchdown. He averaged 5.5 yards per carry.
Mitchell made more 49ers history when he eclipsed the century mark, becoming the very first rookie in franchise history to rush for at least 100 yards in his debut.
Following the draft, Mitchell was seen as a third-down option as someone who could catch the ball out of the backfield. In his NFL debut, he showed he's more than that. He proved worthy of the 49ers taking him in the sixth round, and he should see plenty more carries in the near future.