How Raheem Mostert's Trade Request could Play Out

Grant Cohn

What happens next?

Since the Super Bowl, Raheem Mostert and his agent have asked the 49ers for a modest raise. Not a big one, according to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

The 49ers rejected Mostert’s request. Basically gave him a slap in the face. Told him without using words that he’s replaceable, a mere product of Kyle Shanahan’s system. Nothing more.

And yet, no other running back has played as well as Mostert for Shanahan. In Mostert’s career, including the postseason, he has run the ball 231 times, gained 1,405 rushing yards, averaged 6.1 yards per carry and scored 16 touchdowns.

As opposed to Coleman, who averaged just 4 yards per carry last season.

Mostert easily could ask the 49ers for $8 million or $9 million per season. I consider him one of the five best, most explosive running backs in the NFL. And even though he’s 28, he has fresh legs. Plus he’s one of the best special-teams players in the league.

If Rapoport is correct and Mostert asked for only $5 million per season, and the 49ers still turned him down, shame on them.

Mostert has outperformed his current deal. It’s a special-teams contract -- he’s a “gunner” on the punt coverage team, meaning he runs down the sideline and tackles the punt returner. Or sometimes the punt returner makes a fair catch, so Mostert just runs. His job is not particularly dangerous, and he does it for just a handful of snaps per game.

But if he plays running back, too, as he did last season, he puts his career at risk on every play. Because when a running back carries the ball, all 11 defenders want to descend on him like a gang in a blind alley. Every play.

So what’s the incentive for Mostert to play running back without a raise? The 49ers have to give him an incentive, have to be fair about things. Shame on them if they aren’t.

In 2020, Mostert’s base salary will be roughly $2.5 million. And he has $250,000 of per-game roster bonuses built into his deal. So if he suffers a season-ending injury playing running back during the first week of the season, he won’t get 15 roster-bonus checks, or $234,375.

Under Mostert’s current deal, there’s zero incentive for him to play running back. He should play only special teams.

Some fans and media might argue that Mostert’s agent is the one at fault, because he should have put better incentives into the three-year extension Mostert signed with the 49ers just last year.

I’m assuming the agent did put in incentives. But it’s close to impossible for a running back to reach those incentives in Shanahan’s offense, because Shanahan uses a committee. Running backs split time. Mostert played so much better than Coleman last season, but never started. Plus, the 49ers gave Mostert seven or fewer carries in seven games.

And after Mostert rushed 29 times for 220 yards and four touchdowns in the NFC Championship game, two weeks later he had to wait until midway through the second quarter for his first carry of the Super Bowl. It’s like Mostert’s incentives were an illusion.

So here’s what I think will happen next:

Shanahan probably hopes running back Jerick McKinnon will return to full strength after missing the past two seasons with a torn ACL. If he’s healthy and effective, the 49ers probably will hold a hard line with Mostert, and he probably will sit out training camp and opt out of the season entirely, as many players might do because of the pandemic.

But if McKinnon does not play well in training camp, or reinjures himself, which has been his pattern, the 49ers probably will have to give Mostert the raise he wants. And they’ll probably give it to him right before the season starts, after they cut Coleman and/or third-string quarterback C.J. Beathard. The 49ers can use the savings from cutting them to pay Mostert an extra $2.5 million in 2020 with guarantees.

That’s all he seems to want.

Sounds reasonable to me.

To you?

To the 49ers?

Stay tuned.

Comments (18)
No. 1-13
showoff
showoff

This all would've been moot had they cut Coleman prior to 4-1-20. They would have saved $4.5 million in Cap space. Now he is $2 million dead cap hit whatever they do. Had they cut him the could have kept Brieda, payed Mostert, used Wilson more and still have two ridiculously good UDFA's in Ahmed and Hasty on the sidelines or P Squad.. And with the new rules bring them up on Sunday.. I will never get the hard on they have for Coleman..

Childsplayx3
Childsplayx3

Except he’s the 24th highest paid RB in the league suggesting he’s already getting paid starter money. And I think the Niners are right to not rush to give him a raise as the key to managing the cap is to have players who outperform their contracts. Now next year, entering the third year of his contract, if he had a season like he did the last seven games of 2019, then pay the man. But until then, the Niners shouldn’t feel obligated to give him a raise.

1 Reply

Niner4life41
Niner4life41

The Niners gave Goodwin a raise after 1 good season back in 2018. Mostert clearly deserves to paid as the best RB on the team. If they decide to keep Coleman and his 4 million over Mostert we won’t have the #2 rush offense in the NFL this year I promise you THAT and most likely our Super Bowl hopes go out the window. Coleman McKinnon and Wilson all averaged 4 YPC in their career. It will be a huge loss to our running game it Mostert is traded.

This Guy
This Guy

Typical 49ers front office crap! Let solid, dependable players go over relative pennies and struggle after that player leaves. Mostert has track speed as a running back which is rare. Track speed guys are usually receivers because they are vertical runners but Mostert has that speed and is able to be somewhat elusive. He hits the hole so fast that defenders struggle to get a read on him fast enough to stop him. He had the highest YPC and was the only rushing touchdown we had in the Super Bowl. 4 touchdowns in the NFC Championship and the 49ers are too dumb to guarantee his contract and get rid of Coleman or Beathard who aren't near as good as Mostert. Again, typical 49ers front office crap. I hope this plays out to where Mostert stays and one of the other running backs leave.

Aje806tx49
Aje806tx49

GO NINERS!

Aje806tx49
Aje806tx49

I guess those other 6 or 7 teams that cut him thought he was a generational talent also right.

Aje806tx49
Aje806tx49

Nobody knew who Mostert was until the last few games of the season just like Sanders the team was already 7-0 before he got there I trust in Shanahan. Go NINERS!

Mitchell Alan
Mitchell Alan

It's a 49er delusion that Mostert only produces in a Shanahan Scheme.

Mostert is a generational talent. Superior speed, and hits the hole so fast that veteran defenders can't get a read on him. Makes one cut and he is often GONE. He's past a lot of people before they can react.

His drawback is that he is relatively small. That means he won't last forever in this brutal league. Enjoy him while he blows your mind for the next couple years.

mrmjmiller
mrmjmiller

Love Mostert but I think his agent is leading him astray. As has been earlier said in this blog he comes in after the other team's defense is beginning to tire. He wants Coleman money. Coleman shouldn't be getting Coleman money! McKinnon, Coleman, and Mostert combined are making pretty good money for the running back position. Shanahan doesn't use anyone enough to make top dollar. If they ride on Mostert's back this year he will have a beef. I would be surprised if Shanahan does that. I see Shanahan rotating the backs in the backfield and come playoffs going with the hot hand like he did last year. The Niners gave Mostert a contract when no one else would. Now after a hot second half his agent wants a big score. I think that score is a year away if carries the load for an entire season.

Swim4speed
Swim4speed

I agree, the Niners should cut Coleman and give Mostert a raise. Shanahan will be able to get production out of multiple RBs on the team, but none will be as fast, elusive, or productive as Mostert!

Ty49
Ty49

You do realize as several people have reported already that the Niners already DO in fact have an escalation clause for him playing offense right? He feels he outplayed that. He has been good, but for him to ask to be traded from the only one of SEVEN teams he has played for that gave him a true opportunity who slapped who in the face there? He hasn't had a 1k season so he needed to just get to work make that happen then ask for it once he had a bit more on the resume IMO.

Dallas9er
Dallas9er

Mostert has only been good enough to be used for more than spot duty for maybe about only 1/3 of a season. B4 that, Breida and Coleman were preferred. He needs to show he can be the lead runner consistently for a full year, then ask for a raise. At that time, there will be only 1 yr left to his contract, normal time to work on a new contract. If the 49ers tear up the current and give him a new contract with 2 years left, think of the precedent that starts and how many will asking to tear up and get a new contract in the future.

Dallas9er
Dallas9er

Ever think that Shanahan waits for the opposing defense to wear down a bit first before putting Mostert in to make his speed more effective? Ever think that Kyle maybe thinks Coleman is more durable and protects Mostert a bit physically in not getting hit right from the beginning?

Niner4life41
Niner4life41

It’s crazy that Mostert averaged over 6 yards per carry over his career but hasn’t had a chance to get 200 plus carries in a season as a lead back for any team. The fact that he had 15 TDS last season and carried us to the SB he deserves to be the highest paid RB on the team. Coleman and his 4 YPC can easily be replaced. They will be making a huge mistake thinking this offense will still run the same with Coleman as our lead back. There were 9 games last season where Coleman ran UNDER 4 yards per carry. I’m praying they get this solved. Especially For a team that’s bread and butter is running the football. Our offense won’t be the same this season without Mostert and his explosive runs. Wilson Coleman McKinnon all averaged 4 YPC in their career. That’s not a backfield you want for a championship team.


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