Why the 49ers Need to Extend Raheem Mostert 'Sooner Rather than Later'
Despite never starting a game in his NFL career, Raheem Mostert led all running backs in 2019 with 5.6 rushing yards per attempt. Prior to handling 137 rushing attempts last season, Mostert had never carried the ball more than 34 times in a single season.
It clicked. Mostert had his coming-out party.
The 49ers found something special in Mostert and they could do themselves good by extending their new prize possession sooner rather than later.
According to Matt Barrows of The Athletic, a Mostert extension has been discussed. He doesn't become an unrestricted free agent until 2022 but, considering his role within the offense, he's vastly underpaid at $2.9 million per season.
ESPN's Josina Anderson also noted that Mostert requested a pay raise earlier this offseason after showing what kind of lead back he can be. If the playoffs were any testament of how Kyle Shanahan can lean on him over the next few seasons, he will certainly earn his pay.
The advantage of handing Mostert a salary bump now instead of waiting, hinges on the fact that his recent production would dictate a severally less amount than if he were to have another season in which he puts up numbers like a top-five running back.
Teams never want to get into the business of paying top dollar for running backs, and rightfully so, their shelf-live is short-lived. So why not increase his pay now versus waiting later on when his stock is likely to be significantly higher? Putting off an extension could entail a messy contract disaster, and truthfully who knows what kind of player he will wind up being over the next few years? He could continue to thrive in Shanahan's run-dominant offense, or maybe 2019 was an outlier season? Most would assume he's here to stay.
The 49ers also have George Kittle negotiations currently going on. Kittle would still remain the focus but there are ways to extend both players.
Kittle hasn't even earned $3 million in his playing career. He's going to want big-time money for a tight end and more than likely, he'd like that chunk of money during the early years of his contract.
In order to pay both players, the 49ers could back-load Mostert's contract while still setting the guaranteed dollar amount near his contract demands. Mostert's only seen extensive action in one full season, so paying him like Christain McCaffrey or Ezekiel Elliott doesn't appear to be realistic.
Mostert is more suited to fall somewhere in the pay grade of $6 to $8 million annually, similar to a Melvin Gordan or Austin Ekeler contract.
Mostert and Kittle were the most important non-quarterback players on the offense during their trek to the Super Bowl last season, and now the 49ers need to extend each of them to keep their top-flight talent content.