Will Kyle Shanahan Acknowledge Raheem Mostert as the 49ers Starting Running Back?
Jose Luis Sanchez III
Raheem Mostert strongly believes he is THE starting running back for the 49ers.
He’s not wrong.
Mostert is the clear and obvious best player at the running back position on the team. He deserves to have his name listed first on the depth chart.
But does Kyle Shanahan view him as one?
Mostert can make all the declarative statements he wants. It will all fall on deaf ears if Shanahan doesn’t share his belief. There is no better running back on the 49ers roster than Mostert. The very moment he started receiving a heavier workload, he optimized the offense. You can’t say the same for Tevin Coleman who is more of a filler to sustain the offense, not take it to another level like Mostert.
So will Shanahan acknowledge Mostert as the 49ers starting running back this season?
I would lean toward no.
Coleman is still Shanahan’s guy no matter what. So long as Shanahan has a soft spot for him, Mostert will have to settle for his typical rotational role as a No. 2. Roster politics plays a part in it. There is the obvious favoritism and the fact that he is the highest-paid running back on the roster. Coleman gets carries by default because of his salary.
By doing so, Shanahan is limiting his own offense. Why not use your best players as much as you can? I know he generally favors a platoon system for his running backs. But Mostert is a unique case that would validate breaking up that platoon system.
Whenever Mostert carries the ball, there is always a solid chance of him ripping off a chunk of yards or even taking it to the house. It's why he lead the league with the highest yards per carry (6.0). With Coleman, you know it’s not going past five yards too often. It makes sense considering he only averaged four yards per carry last season.
Mostert has a whole two yards better per carry than Coleman, so it kind of deflates the narrative that Mostert is a "system running back." Otherwise, why wouldn't Coleman and other running backs sniff those numbers? That is no coincidence.
And that’s what I mean by Mostert taking the offense to the another level, while Coleman just sustains it. Why settle for less? Just because Coleman was personally brought in by Shanahan? Sometimes coaches just need to bite the bullet and acknowledge that their own guy isn’t the best player. It's okay to be wrong about a player that you liked. Ride with the best talent and don’t think twice.
Unfortunately for Mostert, Shanahan will likely still continue to give Coleman the start and a good portion of the carries.