SANTA CLARA -- Tevin Coleman accounted for two touchdowns in his first four games as a 49er.
He topped that in the first half alone Sunday.
Not once, not twice, but three times Coleman hit pay dirt within the first two quarters of San Francisco's dominant Week 8 win over Carolina at Levi's Stadium. He got his wheels moving early, and the 49ers kept their foot on the gas pedal for a 51-13 blowout victory.
With just over a minute left in the first quarter, Coleman took a play-action hand-off 19 yards to the house, barely being touched on his way to the end zone as a result of some clever misdirection, which proved to be an ongoing theme in the game.
A few minutes later, again using misdirection, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo found Coleman on a screen pass, who proceeded to go 10 yards untouched for his second touchdown of the contest.
Then, on the first play following the two-minute warning, Coleman took a hand-off through the right side of San Francisco's offensive line for a 48-yard touchdown scamper, giving the 49ers a commanding 27-3 lead going into halftime. Again, untouched.
But Coleman's impressive day wasn't over.
On yet another misdirection play late in the third quarter, Coleman walked into the end zone for a 1-yard score, giving him four in the game. In doing so, Coleman joined some very exclusive company. He and Hall of Famer Jerry Rice now are the only players in franchise history to score at least four touchdowns in a single game.
"That’s definitely amazing to hear that," Coleman said of matching Rice's feat. "I work hard each and every day. … It’s a great accomplishment."
Coleman credited the 49ers' offensive line and receivers for providing good downfield blocking and opening huge holes that he was able to glide through so many times. San Francisco's running back remained modest in the aftermath of the victory, but his teammates were far more effusive with their praise.
"He can fly, man," Garoppolo said. "We had a trap play where he was 1-on-1 with the safety and, I mean, he just burned him. Pure speed. He did everything today. Tevin was awesome."
San Francisco's star tight end echoed a similar sentiment.
"From the first time that Tevin came into the building," George Kittle remarked, "just watching him run with the ball and how he reads it, how he gets downhill, him taking the edge and then getting vertical is one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen, and he does it with zero regard for his body, which is pretty amazing for a running back.
"He gets downhill so fast, so I just love watching him play. For him to get, I think, 110 yards on 11 carries, something like that, and three touchdowns, I’m just happy for him. He deserves that because he grinds every single day, and we’re just happy we could help him do that."
Coleman's running style didn't come about by accident. It has been intentional.
"That’s just my mentality," he clarified, "just to get downhill and get extra yards that we need. That’s what I like to do and what I try to do."
While Garoppolo and Kittle are happy to have Coleman, it was coach Kyle Shanahan who brought him to the 49ers in free agency after serving as his offensive coordinator for his first two NFL seasons while both were with the Atlanta Falcons. Shanahan wasn't necessarily surprised by Coleman's performance against the Panthers, but rather, he views it as evidence of maturation.
"I think Tevin is very similar to how he was when I was in Atlanta," Shanahan said, "just the skill set and everything doesn’t change. I had him his first two years, and I think he is more of a veteran now. He’s been through a lot more. I think everyone matures in this league.
"Tevin was great right away, but I think he knows what he wants. He knows how to play in the offense -- Tevin could play in any offense, so it doesn’t matter -- but he had some good looks today, and when Tevin has a good look, he can usually get it across the end zone."
Coleman had plenty of good lucks Sunday, and he took full advantage of them.