Mason’s second season with the Rams hasn’t gone as the running back would have expected, but he’ll get one final opportunity to end it on a positive note.
“It’s a blessing to be able to start again,” Mason told Jim Thomas of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “But I wish TG was out there with me, to give us some more power. But I’m willing to take on the (starting) role.”
A third-round pick in 2014 out of Auburn, Mason racked up 913 total yards (765 rushing, 148 receiving) and five touchdowns in 12 games a year ago after emerging as the starter.
He looked like he would have a promising future in St. Louis, but then the Rams used their first-round draft pick, No. 10 overall, on another running back — Gurley.
Gurley’s rehabilitation from a knee injury gave Mason an opportunity to seize the spotlight at the start of the season, but a hamstring injury in training camp prevented him from being able to play in the season opener against the Seattle Seahawks.
“I’m not sure what would’ve happened, but we’re here now so we’re ready to go,” Mason told the newspaper. “When you love the game, I put my teammates first. Whatever’s gonna put my team first, you gotta do it.”
When Mason returned to action, he failed to find the stride that he showed as a rookie a year earlier.
Going into Sunday’s game at San Francisco, Mason has rushed for just 163 yards on 57 carries — an average of just 2.9 yards per attempt — and has 88 yards receiving on 18 catches. He has yet to find the end zone after scoring five times as a rookie.
“Tre’s been great,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher told reporters. “He’s taken advantage of the opportunity he’s gotten. He’s going to go. He’s looking forward to this. That’s why he’s here. Unfortunately, if you look back through the year, our perfect world was 15 and 12 carries apiece.
“We wanted to carry it at least 25 times, 27 times and split them. We were unable to do that, either getting the ball back or struggled on third down and struggled with opportunities. But Tre is in great shape right now. He’s fresh and he’ll go. Benny (Cunningham) will go and we brought Malcolm (Brown) up and shoot, you may even see him carry the call a little bit.”
The 49ers (4-11) rank 28th in the NFL in rushing defense, allowing 125.8 yards per game, and the Rams (7-8) will want to run the ball early and often against them.
Mason figures to get more opportunities than he’s had in any other game this season, so now is the time he’ll need to shine.