The San Francisco 49ers suffered a last second loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, but there were plenty of bright spots. The first half saw the first team units look particularly impressive, but in the second half, it was running back Raheem Mostert who shined, and given the origins of KSWOF, it is only fitting that he be named the preseason Week 3 KSWOF player of the game.
The 49ers played Carlos Hyde and Matt Breida throughout the first half, and Mostert entered the game late in the third quarter. His first play came on 3rd and 22, and looked to be a give-up play to get a little bit of field position. The 49ers ran a screen pass, and quarterback C.J. Beathard dumped off a short pass to Mostert. The running back grabbed a couple yards, and then turned on the jets. Next thing you know, he had blown past everybody for an 87-yard touchdown.
On his next two plays, Mostert hauled in a 17-yard catch-and-run, and then rushed for 18 yards, making a nice move and stiff-arm to extend the play. He capped his day with a four-yard touchdown run in which he beat the defenders to the edge. He finished the game with four rushes for 26 yards and a touchdown, and two receptions for 104 yards and a touchdown.
Mostert’s work came against reserves, so we do have to take that into consideration. That being said, did he do enough to earn a roster spot? Carlos Hyde is atop the running back depth chart, Matt Breida got the No. 2 carries on Sunday. The questions right now are what to make of Joe Williams and Tim Hightower.
Hightower got no offensive snaps in Week 1, got 15 last week, and got none on Sunday vs. the Vikings. One would think that means he is likely going to end up getting cut. But given how the 49ers have handled veterans thus far, wouldn’t they have already cut him, or at least plan on cutting him before roster cuts? John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan have made a point to note they want players to have a chance to land somewhere else sooner rather than later. Given Hightower’s veteran status, wouldn’t that suggest that if he is still on the roster this Thursday, he’s likely locked into a roster spot?
The 49ers rookie got extensive playing time in Week 1, four snaps in Week 2, and then 12 snaps this past week. However, in the first and third games, he always came in after Matt Breida. The 49ers spent a fourth round pick on Williams, but it would seem like he is being out-played by Mostert. And Mostert can work special teams, which is something we have seen little of from Williams. I would be surprised if they cut Williams and tried to slide him to the practice squad, but could Mostert force a tough decision?
Every year, there is at least one 49ers player who has a huge preseason and finds himself not making the roster at final cuts. I have a hunch Mostert ends up being that guy. He has been impressive thus far, but I just have this hunch he is not going to make the 49ers roster. It will be interesting then to see if he is claimed off waivers, or if other teams see his preseason work as shaded by the level of competition he has faced. I think there is room in the NFL for a talent like Mostert, but we’ll see what this weekend brings.