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49ers Add Coleman To RB Stable; Freeman Has Clear Path In Atlanta
As's Michael David Smith noted, for the second consecutive offseason,the 49ers are adding one of the top available free agent running backs.

Tevin Coleman has agreed to a two-year, $10 million contract with the 49ers.

Coleman was the highest-profile running back available in free agency after the two ahead of him, Le'Veon Bell and Mark Ingram, had already signed.

The move makes clear that 49ers General Manager John Lynch wants a good running game. Last year Jerick McKinnon signed a four-year, $30 million contract with the 49ers, and after he got hurt Matt Breida became the team’s top running back.

Coleman is joining that mix as the 49ers attempt to make more plays in Kyle Shanahan’s offense.

Remember, Shanahan loved Coleman during the coach's stint as Falcons' offensive coordinator and helped the running back score a single-season high of 11 touchdowns in 2016.

Now, as ESPN's Adam Schefter suggested, Coleman, Breida and McKinnon give the 49ers the type of 1-2-3 punch many teams seek.

Of course, McKinnon is coming off a torn ACL suffered last August and is said to be on schedule in his recovery and rehab. Nonetheless, expecting Coleman to pay a lead role isn't a reach.

"He's not Coleman," one NFC executive recently told's Vaughn McClure when asked about McKinnon prior to this move. "Coleman might not be that first-level back -- he's no Todd Gurley or Ezekiel Elliott -- but he's definitely that second-level back you can win with. It's his speed and his juice. He gives you instant juice. And he's got that experience. You can plug him in right away and play him. He's played in big games."

Said one NFC coach of Coleman, "He is a solid guy who can be a starter, but I think he is a better rotational guy. Who starts is up to the team. He's got a very good change of pace."

As for Atlanta, the Falcons previously signed two-time Pro Bowl running back Devonta Freeman to a five-year, $41.25 million extension ($22.05 million guaranteed) through 2022, an extension that puts Freeman third among all running backs in average per year at $8.25 million. Freeman is behind Gurley's $14.375 million per year, Le'Veon Bell's $13.13 million per year and David Johnson's $13 million per year.

Freeman, who played in two games last season before undergoing season-ending groin surgery, is expected to return fully healthy and back in his starting role in 2019, and head coach Dan Quinn expects Freeman to play with an edge.

Worth noting, the Falcons made a Super Bowl after the 2016 season with Freeman and Coleman sharing the workload. Freeman accumulated 1,541 yards from scrimmage and 13 touchdowns on 281 touches that season, while Coleman had 941 yards and 11 touchdowns on 149 touches.

Now the expectation is for Freeman to move forward with either Ito Smith or another back as his complement. The Falcons have confidence in Smith, who scored four touchdowns in 14 games as a rookie last season before undergoing surgery to repair meniscus damage.

But Freeman, who has played in all 16 games once in four seasons as the regular starter due to numerous injuries -- including multiple concussions -- needs to stay healthy. The Falcons seem likely to add a bigger back to the mix with Freeman (5-8, 206) and Smith (5-9, 195) being smaller backs.

We'll see if Freeman can restore the Falcons' running game -- even without his tag team partner Coleman.