Mitchell continues to impress with fourth 100-yard game


SANTA CLARA — There was no question that Elijah Mitchell was ready to play in the 49ers 34-26 win over the Minnesota Vikings

The rookie, who was listed as questionable to play on Friday carried the ball 27 times for 133 yards and a touchdown. It was quite a return for Mitchell after being held out for last week's 49ers win over the Jaguars. The sixth-round pick had a pin surgically inserted in his finger after learning it was fractured following the team’s Week 10 win over the Los Angeles Rams.  

Mitchell also caught five of his six targets for 35 yards and how he has played since arriving in Santa Clara has impressed teammate George Kittle. The All-Pro tight end even wore a t-shirt emblazoned with the rookie’s image to his postgame media availability. 

“You just watch him, he runs downhill,” Kittle said. “A play that’s blocked for three yards ends up being seven yards, a play that’s blocked for one yard ends up being four yards. When he gets hit, he always falls forward. 

“He runs his tail off, he’s very physical and he makes quick decisions. He doesn’t second guess himself.”  

Kyle Shanahan has been impressed with the rookie as well, especially with the aggressive nature Mitchell plays with. The 49ers staff saw potential in the Louisiana product’s college tape but the head coach shared that he is still surprised by the rookie 


“It’s the style that he plays with,” Shanahan said. “He runs to the right hole. We know he’s talented but it’s what’s inside of him. He is gritty and competes for every single yard. I told him it makes it easier for me to call runs.” 

The head coach revealed that oftentimes when he sees Mitchell’s first contact with a defender on a first down, he starts looking at his play card for the next offensive call for a 2nd-and-10 situation. Then when the staff in the booth tell him it’s actually 2nd-and-6 he is happily surprised. 

“I don’t totally believe them because I saw that he was going down," Shanahan said. "But I don’t realize that he fell forward four yards."

The 49ers' offense came one carry short of Shanahan’s Week 10 goal of 40 rushes in one game with 39 carries for 208 yards vs. the Vikings. Jimmy Garoppolo instrumented two extended drives over 10 plays. One drive at the end of the first half went for 15 plays, 87 yards and ended in a touchdown.

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The second lengthy drive took place at the beginning of the fourth quarter. The 12 play, 67-yard drive ended in a missed field goal attempt by Robbie Gould but tired out the Viking defense nonetheless. 

Garoppolo has been impressed with Mitchell's aggressive running style since training camp. The rookie has been reliable as a ball carrier and pass catcher. The 23-year-old’s ability to get yards after contact has helped the offense keep drives alive. 

“When he gets hit by the first guy, he just doesn’t stop,” Garoppolo said. “The O-line, they help him out too with a little push, but when you can make a one-yard run into a four or five-yard run, the drive will last a lot longer.” 

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