The 49ers had three good tailbacks last season, but the best of the bunch was Raheem Mostert in a breakout campaign to help lead San Francisco to a Super Bowl appearance. Here are Mostert’s odds at Mybookie to lead the NFL in rushing yards in the 2020 regular season.
Mostert played collegiately at Purdue and went undrafted in 2015. He first signed with the Eagles and their practice squad but bounced around the league as a rookie. Mostert finally showed some promise in 2018 with the 49ers when he had 34 carries for 261 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown.
Before last season, the Niners signed him to a three-year extension. Mostert finished the 2019 season with 772 rushing yards and eight touchdowns along with 14 receptions for 180 yards and two touchdowns.
Along with RB Matt Breida (623) and RB Tevin Coleman (544), it marked the first time the 49ers had 3 players rush for over 500 yards in a single season since 1954 [FB Joe Perry (1,049), FB John Henry Johnson (681) and HB Hugh McElhenny (515).
Mostert had at least 1 rushing TD in each of the last 6 games, becoming the 3rd player in franchise history and the first since 1995 to score at least 1 rushing TD in 6-or-more consecutive games. From Week 13 on, Mostert carried the ball at least 10 times in every game and averaged 6.1 yards per carry. Only Tennessee Titans star Derrick Henry ran for more yards during that time.
While Mostert tied for the team lead in carries last season — he tallied only 137 in 16 games. That’s an average of just 8.6 carries per game for a player ripping off 5.6 yards per carry. He had double-digit carries seven times, including the final five games of the season. Mostert was one of just four backs to carry the ball at least 50 times against eight-plus defenders in the box and average over 5 yards per carry on those runs.
It was in the NFC title game win over Green Bay where Mostert made history. He had 29 carries for a franchise postseason record of 220 yards and four rushing touchdowns (second in franchise history only to NFL record-holder Ricky Watters, and tied with LeGarrette Blount for second-most in NFL history) in the blowout of the Packers.
It was the second-most rushing yards in NFL postseason history to Eric Dickerson’s 248 in 1986 and most rushing yards by any player last season. With 14 carries for 160 yds. and 3 TDs in the first half vs. Green Bay, Mostert became the first player in the Super Bowl era with 150-or-more rushing yds. and 3-or-more rushing TDs in one half of any playoff game. Utterly dominating the Packers’ defensive front with play design, coach Kyle Shanahan routinely sprung Mostert for 10-plus yard gains.
Mostert rushed 12 times for 58 yards and a touchdown in the 49ers’ Super Bowl LIV loss to the Chiefs, adding a two-yard reception. There has been some talk that the Niners might give Mostert another extension this offseason. He’s due just $3.15 million in 2020 under his current deal.
Mostert “wants a more meaningful acknowledgment of his elevated production” beyond the rushing incentives in the contract he signed with the 49ers last March. His 2020 base salary accounts for 1.5 percent of the salary cap, and Mostert carries the 24th-highest cap number among running backs. Both Coleman (13th) and former 49ers running back Matt Breida (22nd) have bigger cap numbers than Mostert.
Mostert said he’s “put on some more muscle” in order to shoulder a 200-carry workload this season. There’s obviously no guarantee he’s handed 200-plus carries given Shanahan’s infamous “hot hand” approach and rampant speculation Coleman will “share the load on base downs” as early as Week 1. Breida’s departure at least vacates an additional 142 touches ripe for the picking.
The 49ers are 7.5-point home favorites for Week 1 vs. Arizona.