Raheem Mostert has seemingly come out of nowhere to challenge Matt Breida, and even more so Alfred Morris, for running back duties in the San Francisco 49ers backfield. The 5’10”, 197 pound Mostert is a fourth-year NFL player. He went undrafted out of Purdue where he was a two-sport athlete. During his collegiate career, he ran track in addition to playing football. Mostert won multiple Big Ten titles while running track. He’s a smaller shifty type of running back in the mold of someone like Jerick McKinnon, the running back the 49ers originally hoped would be their starting running back going into the season. Now seven weeks into the season, the 49ers might turn back the clock on their game-planning and start to feature a smaller scat-back in their up-tempo spread offense.
Raheem Mostert: Next Man Up in San Francisco 49ers Backfield
49ers Have Been Decimated by Injuries
Now, don’t get me wrong. Breida, the 49ers current starting running back, is a quality player and should still see the majority of carries when he’s healthy. Unfortunately, health has been a longstanding issue with Breida. He’s been dealing with a slew of injuries again this season. Miraculously, he’s been able to play through most of his injuries so far this season. However, the question remains how long can he hold up. Judging by the decline in his usage and his production over the past couple of weeks it would seem that the 49ers are asking themselves that same question.
Morris was thought to be the answer for a while to start the season. He had a great preseason and seemed to be serviceable in the first quarter of the NFL season. Unfortunately for the Niners, he just can’t catch the ball. This makes their offense one-dimensional when he’s in the game and they just aren’t good enough to line up and play smash-mouth, run it down your throat football.
Ever since they lost their starting quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, the 49ers offense has struggled. With teams lining up to stop the run and aggressively attacking the quarterback, the offense has struggled. They need the flash and dash trickery play-calling to be aggressive in trying to move the ball downfield to score points. They can’t just run the ball and throw play-action. It’s hard to do that when defenses don’t respect the quarterback and you’re not a dominant running team.
What Raheem Mostert Brings to the 49ers
The 49ers have a brilliant play-caller in their head coach Kyle Shanahan that can scheme big plays. However, he needs the right pieces on the field in order for them to succeed. Speed and the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield is key. This is where Mostert comes in. He ran 4.34 40-yard dash at his NFL Scouting Combine workout.
Mostert has been with the 49ers for a couple of years now. He’s familiar with Shanahan’s system and he brings the speed and catching ability to the table, unlike Morris, that may allow Shanahan to open up his playbook. Look for him to try to get the ball to Mostert in space, using him in the short passing game, misdirection run plays, and screen passes.
In his senior season at Purdue, Mostert played in 11 games and had 93 carries, 529 rushing yards, and three touchdowns to go along with 18 catches and 116 receiving yards. Those aren’t eye-popping numbers but sometimes it’s all about the opportunity for players in the NFL. All of the players in the league are talented and sometimes the opportunity is all they need in order to shine. In fantasy football, opportunity or touches is one of the key metrics to projected success. Typically more opportunities mean more production which means more fantasy points. Stats from (College Football Reference)
Raheem Mostert’s Outlook
Opportunities for touches have come Mostert’s way the past couple weeks and so far he’s made the most of them. Mostert over the past two games has registered 19 carries and four targets. With those touches, he has amassed 165 yards or 7.2 yards per touch. Since he’s been so productive when called upon the last two weeks Mostert should continue to see an increased workload. Stats by (Pro Football Reference).
Mostert has waited four years in the NFL for this kind of opportunity. You best believe he’s going to try his best to capitalize on it. As it stands now, it looks like Mostert has entered into the 49ers committee backfield with Breida. However, it is being reported by Niners Nation that Breida re-injured his ankle in the game against the Rams this week and Shanahan is thinking of maybe resting him a game or two to give him time to heal. If Breida is forced to miss time, then Mostert would have an increased role in the offense.
We all know Shanahan loves to feature running backs in his offense. The opportunity it would seem is here for Mostert and it’s up to him what he does with it. Additional touches will be headed his way. As for fantasy football team owners if you need help at the running back position and you missed out on players like Marlon Mack and Nick Chubb last week, picking up Mostert off the waiver wire might be your chance at some redemption. Though Mostert’s opportunity isn’t quite as good as those two players who are playing on much better teams, he could still become an impact player with the opportunity he has in front of him.