Is Raheem Mostert a Product of the 49ers System?

Grant Cohn

The 49ers have refused to pay Raheem Mostert a running back’s salary. They seem to think he’s a replaceable product of their system, even though he scored 15 touchdowns and led all NFL running backs in yards per carry last season.

Are the 49ers right? Is Mostert a mere system running back? And how can we tell?

The NFL Network’s Brian Baldinger tweeted a fascinating stat -- running backs with the most combined “explosive” plays in 2019 (“explosive” meaning runs or catches that gained 20 or more yards).

This stat should show who the best running backs in the league are. Because while a coach or an offensive line can create holes and make four, five, maybe six yards of running room, special running backs turn those opportunities into long gains and touchdowns.

The running backs with the most explosive plays last season, including the playoffs, were Derrick Henry (16), Nick Chubb (15), Saquon Barkley (14), Dalvin Cook (14), Christian McCaffrey (13). Most people would consider those five running backs the best five in the NFL.

Which brings us to Mostert.

Mostert had nine explosive plays last season, including the playoffs. But he touched the ball only 207 times. Henry, the league leader in explosive plays, touched the ball a whopping 409 times. Meaning Henry had an explosive play once every 25.6 touches -- excellent -- while Mostert had one once every 23 touches. Advantage: Mostert.

By Baldinger’s standards, Mostert is no system back -- he’s a special running back, arguably top five in the entire league.

When you take a close look at Mostert’s numbers from last season, he’s even more impressive. He scored 12 touchdowns after Week Freaking 10. George Kittle, the best player on the team, has scored 12 touchdowns in his career.

Mostert scored a touchdown once every 13.8 times he got the ball in 2019. And he wasn’t a goal-line running back. Only eight of his 207 touches were inside the opponent’s 10-yard line last season. Both Tevin Coleman and Jeff Wilson Jr. received more touches in that area of the field.

Usually, running backs who score lots of touchdowns receive tons of goal-line carries. But Mostert’s touchdowns averaged 18.8 yards per play. He usually scored from very very far out.

Which other running back in the NFL scores from far out so frequently?

No one.

Of course, Kyle Shanahan certainly deserves major credit for Mostert’s success. Lots of running backs have played well in Shanahan’s system throughout the years. But in 12 seasons as an offensive coordinator or a head coach, Shanahan’s offenses have ranked in the top half of the NFL in scoring just four times: 2009, 2012, 2016 and 2019.

Shanahan historically has been much better at generating yards than points. He needs a player who converts touches into touchdowns at a high rate.

That’s Mostert.

Get over yourself, Kyle. Give Mostert an extra $2.5 million in 2020. You two need each other. You make each other better.

Comments (16)
No. 1-13
bemore24
bemore24

What happened to when signing a contract meant something. The lack of integrity is alarming. Freaking agent- if he had a poor year would he have refunded some of pay?

Sfbaseball22
Sfbaseball22

I would see if we can extend Mostert, keep his base salary but make some or most of it guaranteed (which was reported he wants) then have his new contract back loaded so he makes most of his money in 2021 or beyond.
Reason: They had a story where they said he expressed comprehension about getting hurt or COVID and not having any more guaranteed money. Just a thought.

Niner4life41
Niner4life41

Bucky Brooks is a clown. He obviously didn’t watch many Niners games last year. If the system was that easy to produce running backs then why haven’t we seen anyone step up since Shanahan got here. Nobody had the impact that Mostert had for us out of the backfield the last 3 years.

Foxstar
Foxstar

Many say Mostert is a product of Shannahan's system. And should not get a raise. But if Mostert is the best RB in that system, does he not deserve to be paid like he is?

Aje806tx49
Aje806tx49

Hey Grant why don’t you talk about what Bucky Brooks said about Mostert?

Aje806tx49
Aje806tx49

Bucky Brooks from NFL Network called Mostert a system RB and a one game wonder

Niner4life41
Niner4life41

Everyone says it’s the system. At least most Niner fans. I’ think it’s both. A lot of those holes only Mostert would of made the long touchdown runs because of his speed and vision. If it were that easy then we would of seen Coleman, who was running behind the same blocking, have the same success. But he didn’t. Mostert had 15 scrimmage TDS playing as a part time back. That’s insane. Just imagine if Mostert had as many carries as Derek Henry last season. He would of broke the NFL record in TDS. He needs to be paid that extra 2 Million. It’s such a small number for such an important player. This offense won’t be as explosive without him.

Robby617
Robby617

This is a hard situation, for both sides Because of what he has done for the 9ers, he probably deserves a raise. But the reality is that he is more valuable to San Francisco and he is worth more to us then other teams, which kind of means we are bidding against ourselves. The answer might be to add about $2.5 million or so in various insentives, but leave the base. Just a thought

Montana1680
Montana1680

Agreed, they should find a way to pay him, just based on helping us dominate GB he deserves some kind of raise. How many RB's have had a performance like that in the playoffs? He has better vision & breakaway speed than any other 49ers RB and even if you replace his yardage production, you probably will not replace his TD or big play production. Although Coleman did have a ton of TD's in 2016, what if he gets hurt? Then what? Now you're relying on McKinnon to stay healthy, big IF, or 3 RB's with little to no experience. If they can afford it, I think the Niners will find a way to appease him. If he doesn't take it and they cave to his trade request, he will go to a team where he is not the lead back & may never see success like this again. There's a long list of average backs who have exploded in a Shanahan system, then gone on to have very mediocre production on other teams.

showoff
showoff

Game set match.. I don't know how much more anyone can argue that Mostert does not deserve the salary increase.. If the Niners go into this season with a cloud over the key to their offense, the running game, over $2.5 million it will be totally self inflicted..

Savalas
Savalas

Telly says he's sure the Niners would like to pay Mostert what he wants but are bound by a budget so can't do that for everyone. Moreover, this year the revenue and cap picture is so uncertain that it would be highly unwise to increase any financial commitment, especially new salary guarantees. We all know the list of high profile players whose contracts are running out. So Telly says to Grant, "Stop saying 'The 49ers should ...' so much." It's still possible the season will be cancelled. Then what?

KT49er
KT49er

At the very least, the 49ers should guarantee Mosert's salary, which wouldn't affect their salary cap for 2020.


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