Sakamoto: 49ers Shaun Draughn and DuJuan Harris Making a Case For Backup Role


9. That’s the number of teams RB DuJuan Harris and RB Shaun Draughn have played for since entering the NFL. Two veteran running backs trying to maintain their status with the San Francisco 49ers, it remains to be seen which one will win the backup job to third-year RB Carlos Hyde.

The 49ers already have rookie sixth-round pick (No. 211) RB Kelvin Taylor, who is all but guaranteed a roster spot, while I believe it’s highly unlikely RB Mike Davis will be released. Why? Because GM Trent Baalke made a fourth-round investment in Davis, and dumping him after only seeing six games of action is not Baalke’s M.O. (Method of Operation).

However, none of those two players mentioned above are NFL-ready in terms of catapulting Harris or Draughn. Which begs the question. Who will win the backup role? Harris or Draughn?

While both are talented, tough, running backs between the tackles, I believe in the end, it’s Draughn who wins out, simply due to having a better receiving skill set.


Under 49ers HC Chip Kelly’s offense, the running back position requires sure hands coming out of the backfield. An offense that prides themselves on being multi-faceted, you can be sure having a dual-threat running back is high on Kelly’s list.

And the numbers don’t lie.

In each of Kelly’s first three seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, the running backs seen their number of targets increase exponentially every year.

In 2013, the running backs were targeted 70 times. In 2014, that number hit triple digits, as the halfbacks were targeted 103 times. In 2015, that number rivaled the 200’s, as the running backs were targeted 179 times. Simply put, Kelly loves throwing the ball as much as running it, so let’s be real.

Harris may be the more explosive runner of the two, but Draughn’s production in 2015 speaks for itself. In six games as the starter with the 49ers, Draughn racked up 438 yards of total offense and one touchdown. All of this despite playing behind a shaky offensive line, I don’t think Forever Faithful had high expectations for Draughn coming in as a free-agent, which instantly made him a lone bright spot in the Jim Tomsula era.

A player who reminds me of a poor man’s RB Charlie Garner, in that he doesn’t need much real-estate to work with, Draughn may prove to be a solid backup, if he can remain healthy. A big if, as Draughn missed the last two games of the regular season, due to a sprained MCL, the 49ers can’t afford another big loss this time around, especially from Draughn.

As the 49ers kickoff their third week of OTAs, it will be interesting to see the camp battle between Harris and Draughn as both are savvy veterans who can get the job done.

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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.