San Francisco 49ers running back Raheem Mostert entered 2019 with 41 career carries. It wasn’t as if Mostert didn’t make the most of his attempts. He averaged 6.2 yards per carry. Mostert was always caught up in a numbers game, which is why the speedster never received the bulk of the carries. Mostert had double-digit carries in two of the first three games in 2019. In both contests, Mostert averaged over six yards per carry. Again, an opportunity was the only thing holding him back.
Matt Breida had the long touchdown run against the Browns in Week 4, and after the bye week, Mostert became an afterthought for whatever reason. The first three games Mostert totaled 34 carries. From Week 5-11, Mostert carried the ball 39 times. My theory on this is that it was due to the injuries along the offensive line. Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey missed time during the middle of the season, and Kyle Shanahan went from running a predominant outside zone scheme to incorporating more gap/man run schemes. The offense wasn’t built to run the “power” plays, and the running game took a hit because of it.
Both starting tackles returned to the lineup, and Shanahan reverted to running zone principles. After a 19-carry, 146-yard breakout performance, Mostert became the 49ers RB1. The highlight of his season came in the NFC Championship, where Mostert ran for 220 yards averaging 7.59 yards per carry and scored four touchdowns. No big deal.
Mostert finished the regular season with 137 carries for 772 yards. A handful of running backs had that many carries during the second half of the season. If you extrapolate Mostert’s 2019 season and give him top-10 carries, say in the ballpark of 240-250, he’s, at worst, a top-3 rusher in the league.
Can Mostert do it again in 2020?
The question should be, will Kyle give Mostert the opportunity. Everyone knows the history of the Shanahan’s and how they cycle through running backs yearly. Kyle’s dad Mike made multiple Bronco’s runners look like All-Pros for one season. It wasn’t just Terrell Davis and Clinton Portis. Denver made guys like Mike Anderson, Olandis Gary, and Reuben Drougns look the part. That’s the beauty of this system.
Devonta Freeman had 265, and 227 carries in two seasons under Shanahan. I don’t think it’s a hot take to say that Mostert has shown to be a better runner as far as breaking tackles, hitting the big play, and being consistent than Freeman. Mostert’s success rate in 2019 was 53%. Behind the same line, Tevin Coleman’s success rate was 39%. Freeman’s success rate was 46% and 50% under Kyle, respectively.
Coleman isn’t going anywhere now that his salary is guaranteed. Coleman should spell Mostert and have around 100 carries this season. I’m operating under the idea that Matt Breida won’t be on the roster, so that leaves Jerick McKinnon to be the third-down back with Coleman.
Mostert: RB1 that receives the bulk of the carries/used in the screen game/
Coleman: RB2 that’s used to give Raheem a breather and to help keep Jimmy G upright
McKinnon: RB on passing downs that can be used to run routes and in space for mismatches.