Rams head coach Sean McVay worked under 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan when both men were on Washington’s coaching staff and he’d like to take a page from his former colleague and current NFC West rival this year.
The 49ers ran more often and gained more rushing yards than any team other than the Ravens on their way to an NFC title last season and they did it by splitting the lead back role between Tevin Coleman, Raheem Mostert and Matt Breida over the course of the season. It’s a blueprint that McVay would like to follow in 2020.
Todd Gurley spent the last five seasons as the lead back for the Rams, but he’s in Atlanta now and Malcolm Brown, Darrell Henderson, John Kelly and rookie Cam Akers are vying for backfield work this season. On a podcast appearance with Dan Hellie, McVay said he’d like things to work out the same way they did for the Niners.
“I think it’ll naturally just work itself out,” McVay said. “You look at that success San Fran had last year with that running back-by-committee approach, what I thought Kyle and their players did a great job of is, ‘Hey, we’re going to have an open-mind approach, we’re going to be committed to trying to have some balance and then we’ll go with the hot hand or whoever really expresses himself as deserving of the carries.’”
McVay made his comments before it began to look like there will be no preseason games this year. That takes away one avenue the team’s backs could use to make their case for a leg up on the competition and it will likely be some time into the regular season before things sort themselves out in Los Angeles.