Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

49ers’ Raheem Mostert feels for undrafted rookies who can’t prove themselves on the practice field

May 23, 2020 at 9:10 AM--

Raheem Mostert entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent out of Purdue in 2015 when the Philadelphia Eagles gave him a chance. While it didn't work out there, it opened up the opportunity for him to remain in the league, albeit with several teams over the span of two years.

Mostert finally landed with the San Francisco 49ers in November of 2016 after bouncing between six other teams. Every year, he is grateful for the chance to prove himself.

Not everyone has that chance, after all.

NFL teams are conducting offseason programs virtually through at least the end of the month. In fact, players may not get together until training camps at the end of July. Even that would require some good fortune.

What that means for this year's crop of undrafted free agent rookies is a lack of opportunity. They aren't able to prove themselves, as Mostert was over his career, on the practice field due to the coronavirus pandemic. Yes, they can still work hard and, to some level, prove themselves during virtual meetings. But it's usually the on-field sessions that help some of these young rookies impress coaches.

"Right now, especially for the guys that are undrafted, it's a critical time to get their careers started," Mostert told reporters this past week. "And it's sad that we're going through this pandemic, but one thing that I would like to mention to everyone is we've all got to stay positive. There's always going to be brighter days, no matter what. There's always light at the end of the tunnel."

For those with the 49ers, it is especially challenging. San Francisco has a deep roster that is coming off a Super Bowl run. Unseating an established player would have been no easy feat even with a full offseason to prove yourself.

Mostert has a message for those undrafted rookies who might be frustrated by the situation.

"If you're an undrafted guy, don't worry about what's going on now," Mostert continued. "Just control what you can control, and that's being fluent in the meetings, speaking up, doing a little bit of extra studying, and also going out there and training on a smart basis, as far as still staying away from people.

"Right now, it's more so a mental state. I'm dealing with it as well. Meetings are getting a little bit tiring at times, and I want to just go outside and run around, but I know the importance of meeting time and what it takes for, not only myself, but the rest of the guys to step up and do what we have to do, so that way, when ball does come back, we're able to be more fluent, and go back to the Super Bowl and win it this time."

Mostert also shared that his wife cries at the notion of her husband and his teammates reuniting and potentially risking their health. The running back sees it as part of the job, however.

Mostert wasn't taking any chances in March, especially with a then-eight-month-old in the house and another baby on the way. He backed out of an autograph show in Santa Clara just two days before the event, even as many still minimized the potential threat of COVID-19.

We now know the threat was very real.

"We don't know what it's going to take for us to be back out there on the field," Mostert added. "Testing every week, and playing in a different state or what have you. We don't know yet, and that's something that's going to be determined once the time comes, once that decision has to be made.

"We've just got to look at the brighter side and hope and pray that everyone is looking out for each other and the safety of each other, as well."

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