Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Analyst doesn’t see ‘a special runner’ in Raheem Mostert, calls RB a ‘potential one-game wonder’

Jul 11, 2020 at 12:40 PM--

Some have been critical of Raheem Mostert's agent requesting a trade given the sample size of work the San Francisco 49ers running back has on his resume. Others respect Mostert's game and have no problem seeing him get paid what he seemingly deserves.

Mostert may not have started a game last season, but that just means he wasn't the running back out on the field when the 49ers offense took its first snap. He still led the 49ers with 772 rushing yards and scampered into the end zone eight times while carrying the football and twice more after hauling in passes.

Mostert is clearly the best running back on the roster, and his agent, Brett Tessler, wants the 49ers to pay his client like it.

One analyst, Bucky Brooks of NFL Media, doesn't believe Mostert's body of work screams that he is deserving of a pay increase just yet and, while discussing the running back, was sometimes critical. He seemed to side with the 49ers, explaining that head coach Kyle Shanahan's system can make many backs look like All-Pros.

Despite Mostert leading all NFL running backs last season with an average of 5.6 yards per carry, Brooks wasn't quick to praise the 49ers player.

"Studying Mostert's game, I don't see a special runner with A+ skills," explained Brooks.

The analyst believes Mostert benefits more from superb offensive-line and tight-end blocking and their ability to will opposing defenders exactly where they want, creating lanes for runners.

"If the running back stays on his assigned tracks without dancing or making unnecessary cuts, he is virtually guaranteed to pick up positive yards with a disciplined approach," writes Brooks.

The analyst notes that he respects Mostert's talents as a "tough, hard-nosed, downhill runner," but he's seen other "pedestrian" running backs like Alfred Morris and Steve Slaton find success in Shanahan's scheme. Morris had 2,888 combined rushing yards in two seasons with Shanahan in Washington while Slaton had 1,282 in 2008 with Shanahan in Houston.

Yes, Mostert seemingly carried the 49ers through their playoff run. He helped the team earn a Super Bowl berth with a record-breaking 220-yard performance against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game. Brooks, however, doesn't feel San Francisco should have to pay a premium for a player he calls a "potential one-game wonder," who is 28 years old and entering year two of a three-year deal he signed last offseason.

"Mostert might believe he deserves a raise based on his expected ascension up the depth chart heading into the 2020 season," writes Brooks, "but the 49ers should hold firm and make the running back prove his value before adding some money to his deal or trading him away, barring an offer they can't refuse from another team."

Let's say the 49ers don't see the situation as Brooks does. Why can't the team simply convert his 2020 salary into guaranteed money to provide the running back with some financial security? During any other offseason, a move like that may already have taken place.

This is no typical offseason, though.

In fact, the unpredictability of the upcoming season, which is threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic to be shortened or even canceled, complicates things significantly. There is no way to predict where the 49ers, and all NFL teams, for that matter, will sit financially next year. The salary cap could drop for the first time since 2011 when the number fell by $3 million from two years earlier and following an uncapped 2010 season.

"Simply put, general uncertainty has likely hurt the two sides' search for common ground," David Lombardi recently wrote for The Athletic.

Lombardi discussed the possibility of guaranteeing Mostert's salary for the upcoming season. Such a move, at first glance, wouldn't seem to make things financially worse for San Francisco since Mostert's salary is already counting toward the salary cap.

While guaranteed money might be enticing to Mostert as the NFL prepares to play amid a pandemic, that same threat of canceled games makes committing to a guaranteed payout less appealing to the 49ers, explains Lombardi. It also sets a dangerous precedent for other players who might see an opportunity to renegotiate a contract with multiple years remaining because of one impressive season.

"While it is unusual for a team to amend a contract after only one season," adds Lombardi, "it's even more unusual for a player to emerge from special teams ace to NFL leader in multiple efficiency metrics over such a short span."

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