The 49ers are bringing in Tevin Coleman, and I’ll sign off on that signing. He looks like a great fit for that offense.

Coleman played for Kyle Shanahan in Atlanta, of course, so he knows the system. In Shanahan’s final season with the Falcons, Coleman ran for 520 yards, averaging 4.4 yards per carry, as the second half of a one-two punch with Devonta Freeman.

Coleman signed a two-year deal worth $10 million. That sounds about right. Mark Ingram signed for $15 million for three years, Adrian Peterson is at $8 million for two, and Latavius Murray is at $14.4 for four.

In my opinion, all of those backs are contributors, but none are the types of backs you want to have on the field down after down.

With Coleman, I think Shanahan has a stable of backs he can work with. Matt Breida averaged 5.3 yards per carry last year. He’s probably their best runner, but he’s on the small side (5-11, 190) to be used in a heavy-duty way. I would think Breida and Coleman will be the two leading rushers on this team. The 49ers also signed Jerick McKinnon to a big contract a year ago, but I don’t think he runs as well as the other two.

Over the past three years, 61 running backs have run the ball at least 200 times. Only three have averaged more yards per carry than Breida, but only two have averaged fewer yards per attempt than McKinnon (who didn’t get any regular-season carries last year after injuring his knee in August).

RUSHING, 2016-2018
Player AttYards AvgTD
Aaron Jones21411765.512
Alvin Kamara31416115.122
Saquon Barkley26113075.011
Matt Breida25812795.05
Mark Ingram57328124.924
Kareem Hunt45321514.715
Kenyan Drake28613584.79
Bilal Powell38918374.78
Dalvin Cook2079694.74
Ezekiel Elliott86840484.728
Devonta Freeman43720124.618
Chris Carson29613594.69
Derrick Henry50122934.622
Christian McCaffrey33615334.69
Isaiah Crowell54724904.615
Mike Gillislee22110034.513
Jay Ajayi51423294.512
James Conner24711174.512
Sony Michel2099314.56
Tevin Coleman44119484.417
Spencer Ware26511674.45
LeVeon Bell58225594.416
Marlon Mack28812664.412
C.J. Anderson42218474.49
Jordan Howard77833704.324
Joe Mixon41517944.312
Orleans Darkwa2018624.37
LeSean McCoy68229194.322
Marshawn Lynch29712674.310
Dion Lewis39916964.37
Todd Gurley81334414.236
Alex Collins35715094.214
Melvin Gordon71329874.228
Alfred Morris29512184.15
Lamar Miller71629344.113
DeMarco Murray47719464.115
Wendell Smallwood2118504.05
Jacquizz Rodgers2269104.04
Latavius Murray55122084.026
T.J. Yeldon28311324.04
Giovani Bernard25210064.07
Frank Gore68027084.07
Carlos Hyde62924974.019
Terrance West2329123.97
David Johnson56222023.923
Robert Kelley2349063.99
Peyton Barber39715173.89
Devontae Booker28710943.86
Theo Riddick2168143.84
LeGarrette Blount62623453.725
Jeremy Hill2639803.79
Jamaal Williams27410203.77
Matt Forte32111943.79
Adrian Peterson44416433.79
Leonard Fournette40114793.714
Alfred Blue32111813.74
Javorius Allen2037353.67
Jonathan Stewart42215213.615
Jerick McKinnon30911093.65
Chris Ivory34412063.55
Doug Martin45415503.410

In Shanahan’s system, of course, receiving production is important. He likes to involve the running backs heavily as a pass catchers.

In that regard, Coleman is better than McKinnon and Breida. I don’t think Coleman has remarkable hands, but he understands that offense and has been effective in it.

Over the last three years, Coleman averages 11.1 yards per catch. That’s 2nd-best in the league among running backs. He’s caught 11 touchdowns, tying for 2nd-most among running backs.

Breida, I think, is the worst pass catcher of these three. McKinnon has the highest catch rate of the three, but too many of his catches haven’t resulted in much production. He also hasn’t actually played in Shanahan’s offense yet. (And he’s coming off a knee surgery).

In the last three years, 63 running backs have been targeted at least 60 times in the passing games. Here’s how they sort out. I’m ranking them by average yards per target.

(Note that in the rushing chart, the touchdown totals included only rushing touchdowns. In this one, the touchdowns include only TDs on pass plays.)

Spencer Ware655382%671210.3
Kareem Hunt987981%833108.5
Tevin Coleman1239073%996118.1
Austin Ekeler886675%68367.8
Todd Gurley22616673%1,695107.5
Alvin Kamara20516279%1,53597.5
Chris Ivory775470%56617.4
Duke Johnson22917476%1,63667.1
Rex Burkhead766180%53047.0
Ezekiel Elliott17213578%1,19967.0
James Conner725576%49716.9
Kyle Juszczyk13210076%90526.9
David Johnson20513666%1,39276.8
Jalen Richard15612479%1,05736.8
Devonta Freeman1199580%80236.7
Melvin Gordon20614972%1,385106.7
Damien Williams846679%56466.7
Tarik Cohen16212477%1,07866.7
Jacquizz Rodgers726083%47606.6
Chris Thompson17112975%1,12776.6
Matt Breida674872%44136.6
Leonard Fournette745878%48726.6
Joe Mixon897382%58316.6
Christian McCaffrey23718779%1,518116.4
Frank Gore1017978%64666.4
LeVeon Bell20016080%1,27146.4
Matt Forte886776%55626.3
Jamaal Williams755269%47226.3
Darren Sproles1067470%66046.2
James White28120372%1,731156.2
Devontae Booker1349974%81516.1
Dalvin Cook655178%39526.1
Saquon Barkley1219175%72146.0
Ty Montgomery1279272%75616.0
Giovani Bernard15911774%94335.9
Latavius Murray867081%50805.9
Wendell Smallwood664771%38825.9
Andre Ellington785165%45405.8
Kenyan Drake1319472%76265.8
Mark Ingram15612580%90555.8
LeSean McCoy18014379%1,04235.8
Lamar Miller1199277%67855.7
Mike Davis655280%37015.7
Theo Riddick21216779%1,19975.7
DeMarco Murray1149281%64345.6
Dion Lewis12610886%70845.6
Jerick McKinnon1219478%67645.6
Charles Sims795975%43925.6
Alex Collins684972%37615.5
Travaris Cadet745777%40545.5
T.J. Yeldon18713572%1,02355.5
C.J. Anderson734967%39335.4
Bilal Powell1259274%66835.3
Isaiah Crowell1238972%65305.3
Charcandrick West715780%37555.3
Jordan Howard1087267%56815.3
Nyheim Hines816378%42525.2
Shane Vereen725576%34704.8
DeAndre Washington695275%32114.7
Jay Ajayi755675%32914.4
Javorius Allen1078479%46144.3
Wayne Gallman704869%28214.0
Carlos Hyde1379670%54634.0

For me, I’m thinking this is a committee backfield. For rushing, I would rank them Breida-Coleman-McKinnon. For receiving, I’d go with Coleman-McKinnon-Breida.

Injuries no doubt will play a role. No way will all three of these backs play all 16 games. And maybe some other running back plays his way into the mix. If I were drafting them today, I think I’d take Breida just a little earlier than Coleman, with McKinnon probably not fitting onto a fantasy roster.

—Ian Allan