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Breaking down Mostert’s leverage, value, and figuring out what happens next

Mostert’s value has never been higher than it is now, but that doesn’t mean he’s in control.

NFC Championship - Green Bay Packers v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

San Francisco 49ers running back Raheem Mostert requested a trade on Wednesday. Ian Rapoport said Mostert wants to be the highest-paid running back on the team. Tevin Coleman will make 4.55 million in 2020, and that’s where Mostert wants to be. After the season both players just had, that’s a fair request. Mostert has worked his tail off as a special-teamer and finally received the opportunity to showcase his skills as a running back at the highest level. He did not disappoint.

System running back?

Kyle Shanahan is involved, so instantly, you think Mostert is replaceable. When talking about Mostert, this is a situation where “all things are true.” Does he benefit from the 49ers system? Absolutely. I could put together about 20 carries or so of Mostert running untouched where John Madden would say, “you could fit a truck through that hole.” Credit Mike McDaniel there. Mostert benefitting from the Niners offense can be true while acknowledging Mostert can create for himself.

Over the second half of the season, Mostert averaged 5.7 yards per carry on 82 rushes. Twenty of those went for first downs, and 14 went over 10 yards. He averaged 3.59 yards after contact (seventh in the NFL) and avoided 15 tackles, per PFF. Mostert had the 27th most carries during the 2nd half. The eye test matches up with the numbers.

Does Mostert benefit from the Niners offense? Yes. Is he also a talented runner that was the best back on the roster last year? Yes. Does he deserve more money? Yes. Can the 49ers pay him? Well...

How much leverage does Mostert have?

Mostert has never had this much leverage during his tenure in the NFL. It’s not much, but the 49ers will never be able to “sell high” on Mostert as much as they can now. He scored in the Super Bowl, and the lasting image for most is when Mostert ran for 458—I think— against the Packers.

Let’s be clear: Saying Mostert has leverage doesn’t mean he is in control. If the 49ers don’t want to trade Mostert, they won’t. They hold all of the cards here. With two years left on his contract, there isn’t much Mostert can do besides holdout. If he does that, I’m sure the 49ers could find a way to fine Raheem for sitting out. From that standpoint, Mostert is pretty handcuffed here as far as options.

What is Mostert’s value?

There is no way for us to know what his value is. Some fans are certain that the 49ers could fetch a Day 2 draft pick for Mostert. If anyone offers that, John Lynch wouldn’t be able to close the deal due to laughter. I don’t see that happening. The NFL has proven more so than ever this past year that they don’t value running backs. We saw it in the NFL Draft and free agency.

Mostert has a half of season worth of production, and while he was great and teams will pay for the future, he’s also been nicked up. Add in his lack of experience as a ball-carrier, and I’d be surprised if anyone offered more than a fourth-round pick, at best. This is a dare to you, Bill O’Brien.

Ultimately, what happens?

Mostert has two years left on his contract. What I imagine happening is the Niners find a way to guarantee part of his salary, and he is on the roster in 2020. A trade is fun to talk about, though. San Francisco would only have about $333,333 in dead money if they traded Mostert. That would also open the door for, “who should the 49ers sign to replace Mostert?” Running backs are replaceable, but Mostert has worked his butt off to get here, and I don’t think that’ll be ignored. Uncertainty in revenue next year with COVID-19, other looming extensions on the team, and the window for Mostert make it hard for me to believe he gets Mostert gets a new deal. If this were March or April before the draft, then sure, there would be a much better chance he’s traded. We are in July, though.

Generally, when an agent goes public with trade demands, he’s doing what he can to get the people on his side. This feels like more of a last gasp to get Mostert money. If that hasn’t happened yet, I doubt anything crazy happens next. Stay tuned.