Coming into the season, Kyle Shanahan knew Tevin Coleman could be a vital part of the 49ers offense after coaching him for two years while the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons.
In Sunday’s game against the Panthers, he looked the part. Coleman had his best game of the season in the 51-13 win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday as the 49ers improved to 7-0. He ran for 105 yards and three touchdowns while adding a receiving touchdown to become the first 49ers player since Jerry Rice to score four touchdowns in a game.
Coleman rushed for 91 yards on five carries in the first half, including touchdown runs of 19 and 48 yards. He also had one catch, which resulted in a 10-yard touchdown pass from Jimmy Garoppolo.
“He can fly man,” 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said on Coleman’s 48-yard touchdown. “On the trap play, he was one-on-one with the safety. He burned him. He did everything for us today.”
As a team, the Panthers only had 76 yards in the first half while the 49ers had 254.
The player that received most of the attention this week was Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey, who came into Sunday averaging 153 scrimmage yards a game. In the first half, he was held to 59 yards.
In the second half, McCaffrey exploded for a 40-yard touchdown burst on his team’s second drive. He finished with 117 rushing yards and 155 yards total.
Coleman in Week 1 was the 49ers’ primary running back, but missed weeks two and three after suffering a high ankle sprain in the first half of the season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His injury allowed for reserve running backs Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr. to get more touches behind Matt Breida.
Breida suffered an ankle injury at the end of the first half. He was listed as questionable and did not return.
Shanahan got creative with the run game in Breida’s absence. Deebo Samuel had a 20-yard touchdown on a wide receiver trap early in the third quarter. Coleman added his fourth touchdown of the game with a 1-yard score. The 49ers started that drive at the Panthers 10-yard line, thanks to Richard Sherman’s interception. Even Mostert got in the mix with a 40-yard touchdown midway through the fourth.
Coleman finished with 105 of the team’s 232 rushing yards.
“They have a great defense,” Coleman said on the Panthers. “The runs today were really open. The offensive line, tight ends and wide receivers did a good job blocking for me.”
The 49ers offense had 410 yards total. The impressive part? They are doing it without starting tackles Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey and fullback Kyle Juszczyk.
“This is not our first time having to do this,” Shanahan said on playing without the three. “The more situations you go through, the more you learn how to do it. It sounds like a huge challenge when you are down to your fourth and fifth offensive tackles but it’s kind of an insult (to call them that) because they haven’t been playing like fourth or fifth tackles.”