Why Raheem Mostert's Success Hinges on Kyle Shanahan

Will Shanahan finally acknowledge that Mostert is the 49ers' best running back?
Author:
Updated:
Original:

One of the top story lines in 2019 for the San Francisco 49ers was the emergence of running back Raheem Mostert.

The running game reached its max potential with Mostert carrying the rock. From his stellar performance against the Ravens, to his trampling over the Packers in the playoffs, who could've foreseen the NFL journeyman turning into a premier starter in the league?

Apparently Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers scouts, that's who.

They saw something in Mostert that enticed them to give him snaps in the backfield. It also helped that Tevin Coleman and Matt Breida were in and out of the lineup throughout the season. Mostert is poised to have another breakout season in 2020, as he said he wants "to exceed what he did last year".

However, Raheem Mostert's success hinges on Kyle Shanahan.

What made the 49ers' run game so elite last season was the platoon system. Shanahan's running-back committee allowed his players to maintain freshness. They didn't need to carry the ball 20-plus times a game, which is why the running attack was so efficient last season. 

But Mostert is the clear-cut best running back on the team. His speed, intelligence and vision when he carries the rock is what optimizes Shanahan's run plays. Sure, Coleman and the rest of the backs are still capable of doing damage. That much has been proven.

But they are not Mostert. 

The fact is Mostert is the 49ers' most lethal weapon behind George Kittle. So looking to give him around 20 carries would actually benefit the 49ers' offense. He is more than ready to shoulder that workload and continue to build his legend. The main issue here is that Shanahan hasn't been the type of play-caller who will utilize a player as a workhorse. That isn't his M.O. as a head coach. 

Just look at how he limited Mostert in the Super Bowl. Shanahan didn't even call a run for him until the second quarter. He gave Coleman, who was coming off of a shoulder dislocation, carries before Mostert. Think about that. Mostert had just made history two weeks prior, yet Shanahan limited him to 12 carries and didn't let him sniff the ball until the second quarter. 

Will Shanahan change his tune now that he knows what he has with Mostert?

Honestly, I wouldn't hold my breathe. Shanahan still has an infatuation with Coleman, so he is sure to see his fair share of carries. Not to mention if Jerick McKinnon proves to be healthy, then he would be another player to steal some carries. 

Mostert will be a successful running back in 2020. The only issue here he probably won't see his potential fully maximized in this offense if Shanahan doesn't acknowledge him as his best option.