49ers: Raheem Mostert isn’t as replaceable as you might think

49ers (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
49ers (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images) /

San Francisco 49ers’ running back Raheem Mostert isn’t as replaceable as you might think.

San Francisco 49ers‘ running back Raheem Mostert made headlines this past week after he surprisingly requested a trade from the team through his agent, Brett Tessler.

This comes after months of negotiations between Mostert and the 49ers regarding his current contract situation. Mostert feels that he is vastly underpaid, and it’s pretty hard to argue that point.

The 28-year-old was the team’s leading rusher in 2019 and led all NFL running backs with a stellar 5.6 yards-per-carry average. Sure some of it was his situation, but Mostert was incredible and it’s difficult to deny that.

Despite this, he’s set to make just $3.1 million in 2020 on the second year of a three-year, $8.7 million contract he signed back in the 2019 offseason. Only when Mostert signed that deal, he was nothing more than a special-teamer and backup running back.

Now, he’s one of the most statically efficient running backs in the NFL and the 49ers’ top ball-carrier. He’s clearly due for a raise. The only problem is, the 49ers may not be in a situation to give him one.

San Francisco’s cap situation is tricky and one would have to believe that Mostert comes behind star tight end George Kittle on the pecking order of underpaid players looking for new contracts.

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Mostert deserves a new deal, but he might not get one. While it still remains unlikely that he’s actually traded, it’s evident that losing Mostert would be a major blow to the 49ers’ offense.

However, some have seemed to insist that Mostert is a replaceable player — simply another cog in Kyle Shanahan’s churning rotation of running backs. But that isn’t a fair representation of his talents at all.

Raheem Mostert is a vital piece of the 49ers’ offense.

Mostert undoubtedly benefitted from his situation last season. Shanahan has managed to make lesser running backs look like starters and starting-caliber backs look like stars. But Mostert is different.

The former undrafted free agent paced all backs in yards per carry last season including both his teammates Matt Breida (5.1) and Tevin Coleman (4.0). The 49ers’ system was the same for all three, yet Mostert was clearly the best of the bunch.

And simply put, his production just isn’t going to be replicated by any other player on the roster.

Following the offseason trade of Breida, the 49ers are expected to have a trio of Mostert, Coleman, and Jerick McKinnon competing for touches in 2020.

But if Mostert is traded, the only other running back on the roster with any recent starting history is Coleman who’s coming off a disappointing 2019 campaign.

McKinnon hasn’t played a snap since 2017. Jeff Wilson touched the ball just 30 times last season. And the likes of JaMycal Hasty and Salvon Ahmed are undrafted rookies.

Expecting any of those players to match Mostert’s production from a year ago would be foolish. The 49ers need Mostert more than most probably realize.

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And whether that means figuring out a way to give him his well-deserved pay-bump, converting some of his salary into guaranteed money, or anything else that guarantees his happiness, they must make sure he’s on the roster in 2020.