The San Francisco 49ers’ offense is built on a strong rushing attack. Head coach Kyle Shanahan’s outside zone scheme has helped the careers of several unheralded running backs.
One of those players is Raheem Mostert. After short stints with six different NFL teams, the 29-year-old found a home with the 49ers. Mostert was used sparingly and suffered season-ending injuries in two out of his first three seasons with the Niners.
That changed in 2019. Mostert showed what he could do with an increase in touches and ran for 772 yards and eight touchdowns. He finished second in the NFL in yards per attempt in 2019, behind only Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens.
Mostert solidified himself as the 49ers’ lead-back during the 2019 postseason run. He ran for 336 yards and five touchdowns, including a franchise-record 220-yard performance against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship.
But the 2020 season didn’t go as planned for Mostert. He suffered multiple injuries and was limited to just eight games last year.
The 49ers’ running backs group underwent some significant changes this offseason. The team let veterans Tevin Coleman and Jerick McKinnon walk in free agency and filled those holes by selecting rookies Trey Sermon and Elijah Mitchell at the 2021 NFL Draft. The 49ers also signed Wayne Gallman Jr. However; there was some bad news on the injury front.
Presumed No. 2 back Jeff WIlson Jr. tore his meniscus during team activities in May and will likely be out for the beginning of next season. Still, even without Wilson, Mostert loves the dynamic among his position group (h/t NBC Bay Area).
“We all challenge each other, they’re gonna get the best out of me and I’m gonna try to get the best out of them,” Mostert said on Sirius XM NFL Radio. ”Especially with the younger guys, Trey and Elijah, those two guys, they’re really learning under me right now and they’re understanding the game and what it takes to be a pro and they’re handling it so well.”
As we witnessed last season, you can never have enough depth. Without the injured Mostert and Coleman, the 49ers’ running game sputtered when McKinnon was the starter. Wilson looked great when the two lead-backs were hurt, but without him being available at least for the early part of the 2021 campaign, Shanahan will likely lean heavily on Mostert and Gallman.
The 49ers’ offense should improve simply by upgrading the interior of the offensive line. Without centers Weston Richburg and Ben Garland, the Niners were forced to go deep down the depth chart. Daniel Brunskill and Hroniss Grasu each got turns at center but could not provide the consistency Shanahan was looking for.
That prompted Shanahan and general manager John Lynch to shop on the open market for a solution. The 49ers found their answer by signing former All-Pro Alex Mack. The 35-year-old has only missed games in two out of his 12 NFL seasons. The Niners are hopeful Mack’s durability will continue in 2021.
The other big move the 49ers made with their offensive line was re-signing eight-time Pro Bowler Trent Williams to a record-breaking deal. Mostert loves what the team has done with its offensive line and thinks the rest of the NFL should be put on notice for what's about to come.
“To get those two guys alone, it speaks volumes, but also it tells me, let’s go, I’m ready to ride,” Mostert said. “Adding Trent back and then also adding Alex Mack, I can tell you nothing but, I’m excited, I’m ready to ride and I just want to let everyone know to watch out.”
Do you think Mostert will surpass the 1,000-yard rushing mark next season?