Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

PFF names 49ers’ running back battle as one to watch after Raheem Mostert requests trade

Jul 10, 2020 at 11:04 AM--

It's entirely likely that the San Francisco 49ers don't grant Raheem Mostert's trade request, and the running back ends up leading the team's ferocious rushing attack this season. He was a breakout surprise last year — and really, in the playoffs — and has earned an increased workload going forward.

Mostert's $2.575 million base salary for 2020 is second to Tevin Coleman's $4.55 million among the Niners' backs, if you don't count fullback Kyle Juszczyk, of course. The team also has Jerick McKinnon, who head coach Kyle Shanahan was high on after signing him in 2018. Injury has knocked him out of each of the last two seasons, though, so no one really knows yet what the 49ers have there.

Ben Linsey of Pro Football Focus named the running back competition among the 49ers training camp battles to keep an eye on.

Many took notice of Mostert in the playoffs, and you had to be impressed by his 29-carry, 220-yard, and four-touchdown performance against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game.

His basic postseason stat line doesn't tell the whole picture, though.

"The display he put up in the postseason, forcing 17 missed tackles on 53 carries and averaging over 4 yards after contact per attempt, certainly helps his claim for a better deal," wrote Linsey. "For his career, Mostert averages over 6 yards per carry. The problem is that there just isn't a big sample size to work from — he has only 231 carries over his five-year NFL career (190 of which came in 2019)."

Linsey believes Mostert's trade demand could open the door for Coleman to see an increased role, should a move be made.

"He dealt with some injuries last season — his first with San Francisco — but he still tied Mostert for the team lead in carries (137) over the course of the regular season," wrote Linsey. "However, his role diminished as the campaign progressed."

Linsey points to Coleman's production in Atlanta, where he spent two seasons with Shanahan as his offensive coordinator, as a better example of what the running back can do, especially as a contributor in the passing game.

"From 2016 to 2018, he was targeted 35 or more times each season and generated a passer rating above 115.0 on those targets," Linsey notes while making it clear that wasn't the case last year with the 49ers.

Coleman's 71.3 run grade from Pro Football Focus, however, was the best of his career. As for McKinnon, the running back will have to stay healthy before a verdict can be made on him.

Linsey notes that Mostert is the clear starter among the group. There isn't much to debate there.

"By PFF grade and numbers such as yards after contact and missed tackles forced, he was one of the better runners in the NFL last season," he adds.

If Mostert is no longer part of the 49ers' plans, though, then Coleman is next in line to receive the bulk of the carries with McKinnon potentially pushing him for snaps.

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