SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Success isn't always about greatness: It's often about consistency.
A year ago, former Elkhart High School running back Jeff Wilson made his National Football League debut against the Dallas Cowboys in a nationally televised game.
Wilson was then an undrafted free agent from the University of North Texas. He joined a roster that included recently acquired free agent Jerrick McKinnon. It also included a promising young back in Matt Breida, and 2017 fourth-round pick Joe Williams.
The team also picked up former Redskins running back Alfred Morris -- reuniting him with coach Kyle Shanahan. Under Shanahan, Morris enjoyed his most productive seasons, rushing for 1,613 yards in 2012 and 1,275 yards in 2013. The 49ers coach was the Redskins' offensive coordinator during those years.
In addition, before the 49ers acquired Morris, Wilson was already listed as the team's fourth-string tailback. Even against those odds, his father, Jeffery, Sr., remained confident during a 2018 interview with the Herald Press that his son would persevere.
Wilson received zero carries against the Cowboys. He had to watch as five other running backs got chances to tote the rock.
That elicited this comment from David Fucillo of the Niners Nation fan website: "He's bubble for the time being. He's got a shot, but it's not an easy one."
Wilson had three more chances to make an impression on a group of coaches who, seemingly, had already established running-back rotations. Against the Texans, Wilson rushed for 20 yards on five carries. In a week 3 preseason matchup against the Colts, he grinded out 24 yards on five attempts. In the final game, he finally found the end zone.
He was later cut from the team but found his way back onto its practice squad.
A succession of injuries to Niners running backs gave him his chance in week 12. He made the most of it, beating out Alfred Morris for the backup RB role.
Wilson amassed 266 yards on 66 carries to finish the year, which was good for third best on the team. He boasted an impressive 4.0 yards per attempt. Equally important in Shanahan's scheme, he was a sure-handed receiver out of the backfield, securing 12 of 15 passes for 98 yards.
In the team's Dec. 2 loss to Seattle, Wilson had more receiving yards (73) than did star tight end George Kittle, the team's leading receiver.
His odds in 2019?
"Not good,” said Niner Nation writer Mark Salveit. “Alfred Morris is gone, but the running backs room already has Breida, Mostert, McKinnon, and Coleman, along with essential fullback Kyle Juszczyk.
“There's no real upside to his game and a lot of bigger talents with guaranteed money."
Wilson has battled injuries throughout camp. Once again, the odds seem stacked against him. For a guy who watched most of last season from the sidelines, however, that's nothing new.