49ers RB Tevin Coleman says he's 'blessed by God to be here' after premature birth

The San Francisco 49ers ended their 27-10 divisional-round win over the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday with 186 rushing yards, the team’s highest total since Week 8. Running back Tevin Coleman accounted for 105 of those yards on a season-high 22 carries. He also scored two of San Francisco’s three touchdowns, as the 49ers won their first playoff game in six seasons.

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The performance also marked Coleman’s finest in the playoffs. He had played in five previous postseason games for Atlanta in 2016 and 2017, but never had he received more than 14 carries, gained more than 79 yards, or scored more than once. San Francisco has used a committee approach all year at running back (along with Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert), but Coleman made a statement to be the lead back as the Niners prepare to host Green Bay in the NFC championship game on Sunday.

After defeating the Vikings, the 26-year-old gave thanks to God as he described how he had to fight for his life as a baby. He was born three months early and weighed three-and-a-half pounds. He’s now 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, and in his fifth NFL season.

“I had a 20 percent chance of living,” Coleman told NBC Sports Bay Area. “So I was just a fighter. I fought through it, and I’m here now, so I’m real blessed by God to be here, to be playing football, to be doing what I do.”

Raised in Illinois by Liberian-born parents, Coleman spent many Sundays as a child singing in the choir at Bethlehem Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Harvey, Ill., according to the Indy Star. Before college games at Indiana, he would often pray on the sidelines.

After a 2,000-yard junior season at IU, Coleman opted for the NFL and was selected by the Falcons in the third round of the 2015 draft. He spent his first four seasons in Atlanta, leading the team in rushing in 2018 and catching a touchdown in Super Bowl LI. Coleman joined the 49ers as a free agent this past offseason on a two-year deal. He appeared in 14 games during the regular season, rushing for 544 yards and six touchdowns. Saturday’s game marked the second time this season Coleman posted more than 100 yards on the ground.

San Francisco will rely on Coleman and the rest of its rushing attack again on Sunday against the Packers. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. ET on FOX.

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