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49ers 90-in-90: Will Raheem Mostert be the lead back all season?

Breaking down the 90 players on the 49ers offseason roster in 90 posts (over 90 or so days). Today is running back Raheem Mostert

Divisional Round - Minnesota Vikings v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

San Francisco 49ers running back Raheem Mostert didn’t participate during OTAs in 2019 after suffering a setback when his broken arm didn’t heal properly. That required Mostert to get a second surgery. Heading into training camp, Mostert was an afterthought in the backfield when it came to dividing carries.

Mostert had a few long runs during the preseason, and that caught the coaches’ attention. Mostert had nine carries in Week 1 and turned one of those into an 18-yard gain. More importantly, Mostert forced five missed tackles. The next game, in a blowout against the Bengals, Mostert ran for 83 yards, three of his 13 carries went for 10+ yards, and he also took a screen for a long touchdown. Are you starting to see a trend here? If you include the playoffs, Mostert ran for 1,108 yards and averaged 5.8 yards per carry, with 3.72 yards coming after contact and 13 touchdowns. Mostert was consistently incredible in his first year in extended action as a running back.

When you have success, you’re going to want a contract that reflects that success. That’s in any line of work. Mostert requested a trade, then rescinded the request after having a sit down with John Lynch. Ultimately, the 49ers agreed to adjust Mostert’s contract. Running backs are “a dime of dozen,” but replacing Mostert’s production would not have been easy for San Francisco. Mostert’s speed, vision, and ability to create for himself make him the best runner on the roster.

Basic info

Age: 28 (birthday was April 9)

Experience: Four accrued seasons

Height: 5’11”

Weight: 190

Cap Status

Mostert’s agent Brett Tessler said that before the Niners agreed to re-work Mostert’s deal, there was a good portion of guarantees in his existing deal. Mostert has $600,000 guaranteed in injuries this season. Mostert can earn up to $250,000 by being active every game this season and next year. Mostert can also earn $50,000 in workout bonuses this year. Mostert’s base salary in 2020 is $2.5 million. He has a chance to earn up to $5.6 million this season.

Why he’ll improve in 2020

By getting the ball. It’s that simple. Mostert had six carries against Seattle in Week 10. He had 10 carries in the next meeting with the division on the line. In the game that mattered most, fresh off a 220-yard performance, Mostert had 12 carries. We went an entire offseason without any explanation as to why and that drives me insane.

Consistency will make Mostert better. He can improve as a receiver as well. I’m not talking about catching screen passes. I mean running routes and catching the ball as a receiver. Mostert went to Purdue as a wideout, so, if anything, it’d be more of a refresher. Mostert had two drops on 24 targets, and at times took off before he had secured the ball. If Mostert can give the 49ers more out of the backfield, he’s going to really like his next deal.

What to expect in 2020

The best-case scenario for Mostert is that he enters 2020 with a defined role. He thinks of himself as the starter. If Mostert gets anywhere near 200 carries, it’s hard to imagine him not reaching 1100+ yards again.

Is that putting too much pressure on Mostert? For a player that had essentially a little over a half-season, and now he’s going to be one of the best backs in the league? One hundred eighty carries is a relatively small sample size. It’d be a real shame if Kyle Shanahan made Mostert his feature back this season to give us a season’s worth of data to evaluate Mostert.