While Brandon Aiyuk's limited snaps and lack of targets got all the attention in Week 1, 49ers rookie running back Trey Sermon being inactive was equally surprising.
The 49ers traded up to draft Sermon in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft and had high hopes for the Ohio State product. But being a healthy scratch in Week 1 appears to have motivated the young back.
"There was a deliberate intent and an extra focus to him, an extra aggressiveness that I think his teammates felt," offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel said Thursday. "So, what that told me is, 'Hey, I didn't like not dressing. I want to play football. So how do I do that? I don't go and talk to people. I show people.'
"That's kind of the common denominator. Kyle always says to the players and coaches, 'Don't tell me, show me.' And he showed, I think all of us, that he really wants an opportunity, which he'll get this Sunday."
Coach Kyle Shanahah agreed with McDaniel's assessment of Sermon's renewed focus and said the running back will be active Sunday when the 49ers visit the Philadelphia Eagles.
"I thought he ran the ball better this week in practice," Shanahan said. "I think [McDaniel's comments are] accurate. Everyone, as the season starts to get going, you're getting better or worse, and it was good. I thought he got better this week."
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Fullback Kyle Juszczyk saw a different version of Sermon this week, as well.
“I saw a difference in how he practiced. The urgency he had out there and how hard he ran," Juszczyk said.
With running back Raheem Mostert out of the season and Jeff Wilson Jr. sidelined until around the midway point, the 49ers need Sermon to be a capable member of their backfield along with fellow rookie Elijah Mitchell and second-year back JaMychal Hasty.