Kyle Shanahan loves running back Isaac Guerendo's speed, running style

In Christian McCaffrey, the 49ers have arguably the best running back in the NFL. That didn't stop them from beefing up the position.

On Saturday, they traded up in round four to take former Wisconsin and Louisville running back Isaas Guerendo with the 129th overall pick.

"Well we love his speed," coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters on Saturday. "We think he’s got a lot of speed. All our backs can run, but it's nice to add one who possibly can run a little bit faster just for the change of pace and things like that. We like his running style. His running style I think is similar to Elijah [Mitchell] and the style that he runs with, he's built that way and like the 40 that he has."

Guerendo ran a 4.33-second 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine. But that doesn't mean the 49ers were targeting speed for speed's sake.

"We didn't make a blanket statement like that," Shanahan said, "but we wanted to add some speed to the running back room if we could. But you don't just add that just to add it. It's got to be the right type of runner with the speed. And there were a couple guys in the back end in the draft who had that. And this is the one we really liked in that way.”

Running backs coach Robert Turner Jr. was fully on board with the decision.

"Bobby loved him from the beginning," Shanahan said. "He called him back at all the right times. He answered his texts. I'm just telling you, if you don't do that, it's hard to come back from that with Bobby. But, the same things I said, I mean we all really liked the speed part about him. But lots of guys can run. You have to be as good of a running back and the physicality he ran with how he was without the ball in his hand we felt he was a guy who played to our style and the skillset set could help us."

Guerendo didn't get much wear and tear in college. The 23-year-old had 132 carries in 14 games with Louisville in 2023, gaining 810 yards and averaging 6.1 yard per carry while stuck behind Braelon Allen. The year before, at Wisconsin, Guerendo had only 64 carries in 12 games — but still averaged 6.0 yard per carry. In 2021, he averaged 7.0 yards per carry — but on only 23 carries in four games.

He added 234 receiving yards in 2023, putting him at 1,044 yards from scrimmage.

Guerendo finished his college career with a flourish, gaining 161 yards against USC in the Holiday Bowl.

For every player who goes from college to the NFL, there's a projection to be made. Guerendo's speed helped make the difference for the 49ers.

He'll start off behind McCaffrey and Mitchell, who is in the final year of his rookie deal. Where it goes from here depends on what Guerendo does with the opportunities he gets.