Trey Lance was the obvious headliner of the 49ers' 2021 draft class, as Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch tabbed the North Dakota State star as the future face of the franchise when they selected him at No. 3 overall.
But after Lance, it was the 49ers' decision to trade up into the third round and select Ohio State running back Trey Sermon. The move was a curious one in that the 49ers already have a solid running back room, and the decision effectively cost the 49ers a chance to address their slot receiver need.
So, why Sermon? 49ers assistant general manager Adam Peters spoke to The Athletic's Matt Barrows about each 49ers draft pick and noted that it wasn't just Sermon's ability as a runner that impressed him, running backs coach Bobby Turner and Midwest area scout Ryan Kessenich.
“Trey’s been through a lot of adversity,” Peters told Barrows. “A lot. And you wouldn’t know it the way he acts, the way he carries himself. He had excellent character at Oklahoma and then later at Ohio State. He came in, he wanted to start. He didn’t start, but he didn’t say a word, he just waited his turn. And when it was his turn, he just balled out. And he played outstanding down the stretch for those guys.”
Sermon is a bruising, physical runner who is an ideal fit for Shanahan's system. While he lacks true breakaway speed, he has great vision, balance and ball security. He also is a good pass-catching threat out of the backfield.
Sermon, along with Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson Jr., JaMychal Hasty and sixth-round pick Elijah Mitchell should give the 49ers a versatile stable of backs to attack defenses with.
While the pick was surprising to many, Sermon had a feeling the 49ers could be calling his name and is excited to get to work.
“It is very exciting,” Sermon told reporters after being selected. “Just being part of this organization, it’s a great team. I feel like this is a great fit for me and I’m going to be able to have a big impact.”