49ers' Elijah Mitchell 'easing' his way back into drills, Kyle Shanahan says

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Shanahan says Mitchell 'easing' his way back into team drills originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SANTA CLARA — Elijah Mitchell led the 49ers in rushing yards in his rookie season after only appearing in 11 contests.

The second-year ball carrier was present for OTAs but did not participate in drills in order to let his body heal from the injuries he suffered in 2021. The marathon of a season took a toll on the 5-foot-10 back and he needed time to “get right.”

Coach Kyle Shanahan offered an update on the dynamic running back who recently returned to participate in team drills this week. The training staff is going to work Mitchell in, gradually making sure he will be ready for Week 1 of the regular season.

“He has looked good,” Shanahan said. “He had a tough offseason just going back from injuries. He didn’t get to do much in OTAs. It was great to get him out there these first three days. He is easing his way back into it. Just glad he’s getting back to health.”

Through the course of his first NFL season, Mitchell dealt with injuries to his ribs, shoulder, head, and knee not to mention a fractured finger. It is amazing the elusive back was able to register near 1,000 yards considering the litany of injuries he was dealing with.

Mitchell has been seen on the field with the first team offense for a few reps a day. While the workload has been light and with players in shorts and t-shirts, the head coach believes it won’t be that much different on Monday when the pads go on.

“You can see when backs can go full speed and not get stuck and hit the right hole,” Shanahan said. “No matter how good they look you don’t know for sure until they know they are going to get hit. That’s when you find out in the preseason.

“You find out who is talented and who hits the right holes but you need to see their mindset when the running back knows people are coming for them, and you want to see if he is going for them.”

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Mitchell did not shy away from contact in his first season in the league. The Louisiana product broke 16 tackles and of his 963 regular season yards, 515 yards came after contact.

The club drafted Ty Davis-Price who will join Jeff Wilson Jr., Trey Sermon, JaMycal Hasty and Mitchell in the running backs room. Still, keeping their leading ball carrier healthy is important to the 49ers.

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