Running back Jeff Wilson wanted trade and Dolphins were perfect fit

MIAMI GARDENS — When the 49ers traded for running back Christian McCaffrey, running back Jeff Wilson asked out.

"They knew where I was at and where I was trying to go," Wilson said Thursday.

Wilson couldn't control if the 49ers would trade him to Miami. But that sure would be an ideal destination, Wilson thought.

Wilson's dream came true when he was dealt to Miami this week for a fifth-round pick, reuniting with coach Mike McDaniel and former teammate Raheem Mostert.

"Man, it felt like a reunion!" Wilson said.

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General manager Chris Grier swung the deal after including running back Chase Edmonds in a trade to acquire Pro Bowl edge rusher Bradley Chubb.

"I know (Jeff) and Mike and Raheem were all hugging and having their kumbaya moment together, being back together," Grier said. "It’s cool.

But Wilson to Miami is not just a feel-good story. The Dolphins truly believe that Wilson is a good running back. And that he will have a good impact on this season.

"He’s a physical guy that you can count on to bring that physicality and tone sets in that regard," McDaniel said. "Great teammate."

Wilson has averaged 4.4 yards per attempt in five seasons in the 49ers zone scheme.

"Man, it’s just almost like riding a bike," Wilson said of Miami's similar offense. "I’ve been doing this since Day One. Same run styles, same passes, the same one-on-one matchups to get you in the open field. So everything is the same."

San Francisco running back Jeff Wilson Jr. gets away from a defender on Dec. 21, 2021, at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California. The 49ers defeated the Falcons 31-13.
San Francisco running back Jeff Wilson Jr. gets away from a defender on Dec. 21, 2021, at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California. The 49ers defeated the Falcons 31-13.

Wilson is 6-foot, 213 pounds, which makes him the tallest and heaviest of Miami's backs, including Mostert, Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed.

While Wilson has run a 40-yard dash in 4.57 seconds, which is solid, if not as fast as some Dolphins. But he should bring an element of power to Miami's attack.

“I’m downhill," Wilson said. "I don’t like to play too many games. I like to get to where I’m going and get there as fast as I can."

Mostert, who played at Purdue, was an undrafted free agent. When Wilson came to San Francisco as an undrafted free agent from North Texas, Mostert became his mentor.

"He’s very aggressive," Mostert said. "Very physical, but he also has a little bit of wiggle to him, too."

McDaniel recalled flying to North Texas to work out Wilson on one of his off days. Helping to discover unheralded offensive gems was a trademark of McDaniel's early career as an NFL coach.

"I remember being so uptight, like palms sweating," Wilson recalled. "I felt like, just nervous, like a nervous wreck. And the first thing, Mike comes in and y’all — like I said, y’all know Mike now — he makes a joke and I just bust out laughing. It was like the ice was broken so after that, it just felt almost as if I’d been working with this guy all my life."

McDaniel says Wilson's personality is magnetic and that he has always been one of the most popular players in the San Francisco locker room.

Wilson grew up in a small town in East Texas.

"It humbled me," Wilson said. "I didn’t have a lot of offers because a lot of people told me they didn’t even know where I was. It was a graduating class of 67 people. I mean, that pretty much tells you right there."

Grier joked that McDaniel just may have played a small part in the Wilson acquisition.

"You always really gravitate towards people that expect nothing given to them and enjoy the process of earning stuff," McDaniel said.

Joe Schad is a journalist at The Palm Beach Post part of the USA TODAY Florida Network. You can reach him at jschad@pbpost.comHelp support our journalism. Subscribe today.

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Jeff Wilson is traded to Miami Dolphins where he can play right away