FF Tips

Even if Raheem Mostert Stays a 49er, Can He Deliver?

By Jared Smola 8:07pm EDT 7/8/20


Raheem Mostert's agent announced Wednesday that he and his client have requested a trade. We'll see whether that happens. But here's a deep look at what his 2020 team will get.

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What You Need to Know:

  • Mostert racked up 715 yards and 11 TDs on 117 carries over the final 8 games of last year, including the playoffs.
  • He’s a long shot to repeat the 6.1 yards per carry or 9.4% TD rate he posted over that stretch.
  • Mostert looks like the favorite for lead ball-carrying duties in San Francisco this year but will need to fend off Tevin Coleman.


A huge finish

Mostert was awesome down the stretch last season. Over the final 5 games, he racked up 379 yards and 6 TDs on 64 carries. Only 7 guys ran for more yards. Only 1 tallied more rushing scores. Mostert averaged a big 5.9 yards per carry.

Then he stayed hot in the playoffs, compiling 336 yards and 5 TDs in 3 games — good for 6.3 yards per carry. The majority of that came in a 220-yard, 4-TD dismantling of the Packers. But Mostert also averaged a strong 4.8 yards per carry vs. the Vikings and Chiefs.

Mostert benefited from playing in a strong rushing attack. The 49ers ranked 8th in Football Outsiders’ Adjusted Line Yards, which basically measures the effectiveness of each team’s run blocking. But Mostert also did plenty of damage on his own. Among 50 RBs with 30+ carries from Week 13 to the Super Bowl, he ranked 6th in yards after contact per attempt and 1st in avoided tackles. Pro Football Focus ranked him 2nd in their rushing grades over that span.

So why doesn’t Mostert sit higher in our 2020 rankings? We have a few concerns.


Regression

First, he’s unlikely to remain as efficient as he was over that 8-game stretch. Mostert averaged a massive 6.1 yards per carry across those outings. Over the past 5 years, not a single RB has handled 200+ carries in a season and averaged better than 5.4 yards per carry. Mostert and this 49ers running game are good, but they aren’t 6.1-yards-per-carry good.

Then there’s the TD rate. Mostert hit pay dirt on 9.4% of his carries over his final 8 games last year. That’s completely unsustainable. The league-wide rushing TD rate for RBs over the past 3 seasons is 3.2%. Last year, none of the 20 RBs who carried 200+ times topped a 6.8% TD rate. Only 5 of the 20 even hit 5%.


Competition

So Mostert is in for some serious regression in 2020. Can he make up for it with volume? Maybe. He averaged 14.6 carries over those final 8 games last season — although that was inflated by the 29-carry outing vs. the Packers. Still, that average puts him on a full-season pace of 234 carries that would have ranked 16th league-wide last year.

We’re just not sure Mostert will remain on that pace. He averaged just 6.6 carries across his first 11 games last season, reaching double digits just twice. Prior to that, Mostert totaled just 41 carries in 4 NFL seasons. This is a 28-year-old journeyman who finally broke out over the 2nd half of his 5th campaign. Some caution projecting him would be wise.

The 49ers did trade RB Matt Breida to Miami this offseason, giving Mostert 1 less competitor for carries. But Tevin Coleman, who out-carried Mostert 115 to 73 over last year’s first 11 games, is back. Although he totaled just 22 carries over the final 5 regular-season games, Coleman out-carried Mostert 22 to 12 in San Francisco’s 1st playoff game before hurting his shoulder in the 2nd. Coleman inked a 2-year, $8.5 million deal with the Niners last offseason and also spent his first 2 NFL seasons playing under Kyle Shanahan in Atlanta.

Mostert is the deserving favorite for lead duties after his big finish last year. But he’s far from locked into that role. And we’re very likely looking at a committee backfield regardless. The 49ers also retained Jerick McKinnon this offseason. He’s missed the past 2 years with knee trouble, but the team evidently believes he can still contribute, especially in the passing game.


Passing-game usage

Speaking of which, Mostert was a near-zero in the passing game last year. He totaled just 14 catches on 22 targets for the season. And even during that big 8-game stretch, he hauled in just 9 of 12 targets for 77 yards.


Draft Sharks Bottom Line:

Mostert deserves credit for his monster numbers over the 49ers’ final 8 games last year. He averaged 6.1 yards per carry and scored 11 times on 117 attempts.

Don’t expect that to continue in 2020, though. That per-carry average and TD rate are unsustainable. And Mostert isn’t guaranteed similar volume with Tevin Coleman still in the mix. He’s also not going to add much in the passing game.

The ceiling we saw late last season is exciting. But Mostert is risky as anything more than a RB3 on your fantasy squad.

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