Sakamoto: 49ers bolster running back depth by swinging trades with AFC teams

In his first NFL draft, San Francisco 49ers GM John Lynch made four trades. Deals that involved the Chicago Bears, Seattle Seahawks, New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings, Lynch ensured in leveraging draft position. 

Deals that yielded two top 100 picks in next year’s NFL draft, Lynch had some flexibility for 2018. As a result, the 49ers struck a deal with the Denver Broncos to kickoff day three. 

The 49ers traded their 2018 fourth-round pick to Denver in exchange for Broncos RB Kapri Bibbs and their fifth-round pick (No. 177). A move that was somewhat of a head-scratcher, considering the team already has RB Carlos Hyde, RB DuJuan Harris, and RB Tim Hightower sitting atop the depth chart, the addition of Bibbs was puzzling. 

At 5-9, 212, Bribbs has the vision and cutback ability that scouts covet. He plays with a low pad level and his agility is apparent. The knock on Bribbs is that he doesn’t possess the breakaway speed to be a consistent home-run threat. 

Just minutes later, the 49ers traded up in the fourth-round (No. 121) with the Indianapolis Colts to select Utah RB Joe Williams. In this deal, the Colts received the Niners fourth-round pick (No. 143) and fifth-round pick (No. 161). 

At 5-11, 210, Williams has the thick-build that scouts love. In the NFL speed kills. He ran the second-fastest 40-time of all running backs posting a 4.41, making it hard for any team to ignore that type of HWS (Height/Weight/Speed). 

Now, the team has a plethora of running backs to work into the rotation. Are any of these running backs worthy of carrying the primary workload? Time will tell as Shanahan and company have a plan in place. 

Ryan is the Founder/CEO of, 49ers Beat Writer, Live Game Day Correspondent for Bleacher Report and member of Pro Football Writers of America. Born and raised in San Jose, he also graduated from San Diego State University. His work has been featured on NFL Network, 95.7 The Game, National Football Post, Sports Illustrated, FanSided Network, ESPN Radio, CBS Sports 810, and NBC Bay Area News. For more information, please contact him via email at or call him at (408) 622-0996.