In one of Wednesday’s most shocking transactions, the San Francisco 49ers waived running back Trey Sermon. The No. 88 overall selection in last year’s draft, the 49ers have given up on Sermon awfully quickly.
Expectations were high for Sermon’s rookie season in San Francisco’s zone-based rushing attack. It wasn’t to be. Sermon was an afterthought, having received just 41 carries in nine regular-season appearances. Year Two wasn’t welcoming new expectations. Sermon had been trailing behind both presumed starter Elijah Mitchell and Jeff Wilson Jr. in training camp. The 49ers also drafted Tyrion Davis-Price in the third round. Nothing about the 49ers’ behavior suggested they had any remaining faith in Sermon.
The swift end to the Sermon era in the Bay Area represents another miss for head coach Kyle Shanahan at the running back position (Tevin Coleman and Jerick McKinnon come to mind). It’s an odd theme given Shanahan’s penchant for crafting productive rushing attacks.
The 23-year-old Sermon remains an ascending talent with a boatload of potential despite this setback. A change of scenery may kickstart Sermon’s career. Sermon will be subject to the league’s waiver claims process. We’ve identified three potential landing spots.
The Texans are appropriately embracing rookie ball-carrier Dameon Pierce as their starter. Pierce should receive the bulk of the workload after a string of impressive showings throughout training camp and the preseason, but there’s room for a new No. 2 running back in Houston. The Texans waived both Marlon Mack and Royce Freeman earlier this week. Mack re-signed to Houston’s practice squad, but such a transaction indicates Mack, who was nothing more than a low-risk reclamation project, failed to impress throughout July and August.
Veteran running back Rex Burkhead remains in Houston, but Sermon possesses a significantly higher ceiling than the 32-year-old Burkhead does. The Texans must improve on last year’s historically poor rushing attack that tallied a league-low 1,422 yards and 3.4 yards per play. The Texans possess the third-highest priority on the waiver wire. Sermon and Pierce would establish a physical one-two punch in Houston’s backfield that hangs its hat on contact balance and toughness.
Run-happy starting quarterback Marcus Mariota should improve an abysmal Falcons rushing attack that averaged the 31st-ranked 85.4 rushing yards per game last season, but Head Coach Arthur Smith is still searching for more production from his backfield. Rookie ball-carrier Tyler Allgeier may receive the first crack, but Allgeier hardly impressed throughout the preseason, having averaged 3.3 and 2.8 yards per carry in two of Atlanta’s three exhibition contests. The Falcons could add Sermon without parting with precious draft capital. It should add to their level of interest in submitting a waiver claim for Sermon’s services. The Falcons are eighth in the waiver priority.
It’s worth acknowledging that Sermon failed to make the desired impression in Shanahan’s system. Arthur Smith’s scheme borrows plenty of zone-based concepts from Shanahan’s coaching tree, but a previous failure in a different destination shouldn’t deter the Falcons from considering Sermon. The Falcons could have plenty to gain by adding Sermon to their concerning ground game.
Nick Sirianni’s Eagles averaged a league-high 159.7 rushing yards per contest throughout the 2021 campaign. The utilization of several running backs in Philadelphia’s backfield directly contributed to their success. As long as Sirianni and Jalen Hurts remain in Philly, this is never going to be a one-back system.
Presumed starter Miles Sanders has struggled to stay healthy (he’s missed a combined nine games across the previous two seasons) and has been nursing a hamstring injury as of late. Kenneth Gainwell has received reps with the first-team offense as a result. Eagles General Manager Howie Roseman may consider adding to this group before their Week 1 contest against the Detroit Lions marks its arrival.
The Eagles run plenty of inside and split zone concepts. Sermon enjoyed success executing such concepts at Ohio State. Sermon and the Eagles could form an ideal partnership.
- Sep 23, 2022
- Sep 23, 2022