Saying RB Mike Davis struggled during his rookie season would be an understatement. In six games with the San Francisco 49ers, the 2015 fourth-round pick was given 35 carries and could only manage a paltry 58 yards (just under 1.7 yards per rush). When you consider he had a 13-yard run mixed in there, the overall numbers look even worse.
Even though he’s only entering his second season, it’s safe to say Davis’ spot on the roster could be in jeopardy. He was outplayed last year by journeymen RB Shaun Draughn and RB Dujuan Harris, and the Niners spent a 2016 draft selection on RB Kelvin Taylor. With RB Carlos Hyde entrenched as the starter, it’s safe to say Davis would have to impress early on to get on the field at all this year.
With the pressure on, Davis responded in a big way. During Week 1 of the preseason, the maligned back gained 72 yards on five carries, including a 44-yard scamper. He also added two catches for 17 yards. Davis looked quick and decisive with the ball in his hands, and appeared to be a far cry from the over matched rookie we saw last year. The performance made the team take notice, and HC Chip Kelly said that Davis has put himself in a good position for a spot moving forward.
“I try to look at the positives with all those guys,” said Kelly. When I looked at film when we got here, it was just give me a feel and a flavor for what he’s like. I knew that he was a physical runner. I knew that he ran behind his pads really well and he’s shown that. He’s really put himself in a position for a spot. It’s like I talked to some of those guys in the locker room, you guys have a chance to play tonight. You’re battling and what you put on tape is really what we’re judging you on. Some guys really stepped up and really took advantage of that opportunity and some other guys were kind of looking around and kind of caught up in the moment. So they need to kind of settle down, take a deep breath and then hopefully everybody has a little bit better, kind of let’s get going we have to get ready to go play Denver.”
#49ers have 160 yards rushing right now. Mike Davis has 71 yards and 4 carries and looks like a different player
— Al Sacco (@AlSacco49) August 15, 2016
Even though Davis’ stock is up at the moment, he’s still in a fierce competition for an in-game opportunity, and will have to keep his foot on the gas. It will be interesting to see if his development continues this summer, and if he can force the coaching staff’s hand to move further up the depth chart.