Sermon ahead of curve after first team reps at 49ers OTAs


Running back Trey Sermon already is several steps ahead of schedule. 

The 49ers started their summer break early, but the Ohio State product is well ahead of rookies drafted in 2020. 

During organized team activities (OTAs) the team played it safe with Raheem Mostert, limiting his reps. Jeff Wilson will be out for four-to-six months after suffering a meniscus injury. As a result, Sermon was given the lion's share of carries with the first team. 

Kyle Shanahan was pleased that the rookie was able to get a lot of valuable experience in the seven team practices during OTAs. The head coach believes it will set Sermon up for success when he returns for training camp. 

“Last year we didn't get an offseason and you have a bunch of rookies show up for training camp and you have no idea what they're into,” Shanahan said after he announced minicamp would not be held. “Some they think they're in shape and they tweak stuff and it messes up their whole year. 

“To be able to get rookies here, see what it's like to play to NFL speed, to learn the playbook, to go out there and understand how NFL practices are, how fast you go, how much better the people are across from you."

Offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel compared being a rookie in the NFL to learning a new language. Both Sermon and the coaching staff will benefit from having several practices under their belt that can be reviewed during their time away from the facility. 


"Being able to step in a huddle, hear the verbiage, and go execute their assignment, that's the biggest step forward that they took,” McDaniel said. “Just literally being out there and being able to operate.

"Once they do that, then there's a million things that you can coach them up on, which is the value of OTAs. We can get them an idea of what they need to be focusing on moving forward, so that when we build in training camp and throughout the season, that they can perform at their best.”

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Sermon is even more prepared than most rookies entering the league having watched quite a bit of 49ers game film prior to being drafted. The running back wanted to be prepared for his transition to Ohio State’s outside zone scheme after spending three seasons at the University of Oklahoma. Shanahan's system was the one Sermon studied the most. 

During the final 49ers' OTA practice open to the media, Sermon was seen catching passes from Jimmy Garoppolo as well as taking handoffs. The ball carrier’s dual-threat abilities, shown off in college, will be a benefit for Shanahan and the offense in 2021.

Through his four college seasons, Sermon carried the ball 455 times for 2,946 yards and 26 touchdowns. He also recorded 48 receptions for 486 yards and three receiving touchdowns. Shanahan hopes Sermon's offseason experience will help the rookie when the team reconvenes at the end of July for training camp. 

“It gives those guys just an idea of when they come into camp, what I’ve got to work on,” Shanahan said. “And I think it helps those guys have a much better rookie year. Trey's been great. 

“Each week he's gotten more and more reps and as we cooled it down with Raheem a little bit here, the last couple of weeks, it's given him even more opportunities.”

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