San Francisco 49ers running back Raheem Mostert became more than just a special teams weapon last season despite an injury-shortened year, which could impact his use heading into 2019.
Fortunately, though, Mostert was awfully good on special teams. And last season, he proved he could be a serviceable running back, too.
Even though Mostert’s campaign last year was cut short by a gruesome arm injury in Week 9 against the Oakland Raiders, he still managed to find himself setting career highs in the offensive department.
No longer just a special teams ace, Mostert proved his speed and versatility could be a useful tool in head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense. One can only guess what his use would have been like had he not suffered the arm injury.
The Niners apparently thought this, too, signing him to a three-year deal earlier in 2019.
But with San Francisco adding additional bodies to running back, what will Mostert’s role be like this upcoming season?
Why Raheem Mostert Improves in 2019
Despite being an undrafted free agent and bouncing around the league a bit since 2015, Mostert appears to have found a home in San Francisco.
His speed was something of note, particularly during his extended use in 2018, although he’ll make his money on special teams. Last season, according to Pro Football Focus, he earned a 61.8 overall grade. The year before, though, this special teams mark was an elite-level 90.5.
If he can return anywhere close to that kind of production, it will only be a bonus. Especially if Mostert winds up finding himself in the occasional offensive-support role over the course of the year.
Why Raheem Mostert Regresses
While Mostert’s special teams abilities are commendable, PFF only gave him a special teams grade above that 61.8 mark just once, and that was 2017.
Grades here aren’t everything, of course, and speed as a gunner is tremendously important. Mostert excels there, but there’s always the problem of missed tackles, of which he had two last season.
Mostert got his offensive chances last season primarily because of injuries. With the 49ers doing a lot to reinforce this unit during the offseason, it’s likely Mostert gets pushed down the depth chart considerably, cutting into his would-be offensive stats.
Chances of Making the 49ers’ 53-Man Roster in 2019
Mostert’s new contract pretty much ensures he’ll be safe this season. Cutting him post July 1 would save only $162,000 in cap space with over $1.7 million in dead money. Granted, the Niners aren’t in cap hell, so that number doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things. But it does come into play.
What could factor into Mostert’s future, though, is the sheer crowd at running back. Jerick McKinnon is poised to return from a 2018 ACL tear, while Matt Breida looks to return as a key offensive weapon. The free-agent addition of Tevin Coleman also pushes Mostert down the depth chart.
Simply put, the 49ers don’t need Mostert to be an offensive weapon. He’ll need to prove his value on special teams, which is always difficult to gauge until the final 53-man roster is announced.
Mostert required an additional procedure on his surgically repaired forearm, recently, which will keep him out until training camp. That doesn’t change him being on the stronger side of the roster bubble, though, and it’s a safe bet to assume he’ll be available once Week 1 rolls around.
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