Former 49ers RB Jeff Wilson Jr. Bids Farewell to The Bay
Trade deadline day can be an exciting time for the fans and organizations alike, but sometimes it stings too. Running back Jeff Wilson Jr. is a prime example of that.
The San Francisco 49ers traded Wilson to the Miami Dolphins Tuesday, in exchange for as fifth-round pick in 2023. Wilson has been with the Red & Gold his whole career, coming on as undrafted free agent back in 2018. Elevating up the depth chart over the years, the running back found himself in a featured role to start the 2022 season, the No. 1 option out of the backfield with Elijah Mitchell sidelined (MCL sprain).
Since the McCaffrey trade however, Wilson’s role has been diminished, only getting four carries for 14 yards in Week 8’s win over the Rams. Looking for a bigger role in an offense, the running back approached general manager John Lynch for a resolution, ultimately determining that a trade was necessary.
Now with a half of the 2022 season to go, Wilson moves across the country to reunite with his former coach, Mike McDaniel, and the explosive Dolphins offense. While the move is exciting for both parties, some emotions came up, Wilson himself learning of the trade as he was planning to go home to Texas for the 49ers bye week.
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“Four years ago, you welcomed me to the Bay Area with open arms and a lot of love,” Wilson wrote in an Instagram post. “I was a long way from Texas where I grew up, but you made me feel at home from day one.
“Thank you to the front office, coaches and all of the staff at the facility and stadium. The culture within the 49ers is special, and it’s because of the people.”
“To my teammates, my brothers, our bond is forever. From the Super Bowl to the dog days in camp to just hanging out, we made amazing memories.
“To the Faithful, man, what an amazing fan base. I’m thankful for you.
“Know that as this new chapter begins, I’m forever grateful for the first chapter.”
A player who was loved by the locker room, Lynch and the front office expressed how much Wilson was valued by the team. But with the “CMC” trade looming large, the 49ers wanted to take care of their guy and find him a landing spot.
“At first Jeff was excited,” Lynch said Tuesday. “He felt like Miami was a great spot because he knows Mike and the crew. And then the emotions hit him, and I was able to share with him that, ‘Look, you’re not only one of my favorite players that I’ve ever had the opportunity to be around, you’re one of my favorite people.’ And I think Jeff feels the same way. At some point, you can only keep so many, just from a roster approach,” he added. “Like we knew when we made the Christian move, someone was going to have to go, and, ultimately, Jeff’s the one.”
Wilson’s best season for the Red & Gold came in 2020 when he led the team in rushing with 600 yards on 126 carries. Off to another excellent start in 2022, Wilson tallied 468 rushing yards on 92 attempts over eight games, including Week 5 where he ran for 120 yards on 17 attempts.
Now shifting gears to the Dolphins, Wilson could feature in Week 9 for his new team, according to McDaniel, but the decision is still to be determined.
“I mean it’d be an aggressive move [to play Wilson and new linebacker Bradley Chubb this week],” McDaniel stated Wednesday. “They’ll play. Now how much? That’s to be determined…I’m excited for the team, because both of those individuals are excited to be part of this team. And we’re very happy with the the direction we’re going and hopefully that will help push forward and continue that direction.”