Shanahan further explains how Mason fears led to Sermon cut originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
In fact, it wasn’t something they wanted to do at all, coach Kyle Shanahan said Thursday on KNBR’s “Tolbert & Copes.”
But fellow back Jordan Mason’s preseason was too hard to ignore, and San Francisco knew the rest of the NFL had taken notice of the undrafted rookie as well.
“I mean, it was tough,” Shanahan said of cutting Sermon, their third-round draft pick in 2021. “Trey didn’t have a good rookie year, as good as we wanted. I think that’s well documented. But he came back and did everything we asked him the second year, and he did a really good job in practice. I thought he did a good job in the games. He really did good enough for him to make our team. That’s why we kept five [running backs] the first day.”
NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco reported Thursday that San Francisco had intelligence Mason would have quickly ended up with another team if he didn’t make the 49ers’ initial roster. That, coupled with the need for a spot to add offensive lineman Blake Hance, led to the tough Sermon decision.
“Unfortunately, though, it really came down to us being so scared we were going to lose J.P. Mason,” Shanahan continued (J.P. derives from Mason’s first and middle names, Jordan Ponchez). “We didn’t really expect for him to be where he was at. We thought we’d be able to keep four backs and keep him on the practice squad.
“But the way he turned it on at the end of camp in practice and then what he showed in those preseason games, we just really felt we were going to lose him.”
Mason’s 94 yards led the 49ers in rushing during the preseason, and he averaged 4.9 yards per carry. He could represent yet another lesser-known back who goes on to shine in Shanahan’s offense, but as general manager John Lynch told reporters Thursday, that remains to be seen.
With the regular-season opener against the Chicago Bears just over a week away, however, the 49ers might have a clue soon.
“What J.P. Mason becomes, I don’t know,” Lynch said. “We’re very encouraged and we think that he’s really going to be a good football player for us.”