Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Earth to Kyle: Not all running backs are the same!

Gary Mialocq
Dec 16, 2019 at 12:15 PM

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A week ago, headlines on the sports pages of the SF Chronicle echoed in newspapers across the country saying: "Raheem Mostert becomes 49ers' new lead running back."

You were quoted as saying: "Raheem has earned it these last few weeks." "We need to give him more opportunities. He's given us no choice. I'm happy for him. He's been extremely impressive." Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said Mostert's "burst" makes him special. Fullback Kyle Juszczyk mentioned something different. "His uniqueness is his decisiveness," Juszczyk said. "He makes his decisions very quickly, he doesn't hesitate, and he hits the hole."

According to you, Kyle, it doesn't matter what makes Mostert special. "I'm not exactly sure what it is," Shanahan said, "but it's time for people to notice." WHAT HAPPENED YESTERDAY? The kid has been outstanding in this, his first full season as a running back. However, he continues to be treated as almost an afterthought, and your treatment of him as a reward for his stellar play is to continue to play with his playing time like a third-stringer. You're sure not doing much to inspire his confidence with your shuffling the running backs like a deck of cards. Consistency and rhythm are the KEYS to winning, not musical chairs.

Matt Breida is a great spot player but isn't strong enough and has missed many games due to ankle or leg injuries, so he's an ideal complement to the starter, not a lead back. However, your insistence on using Tevin Coleman, who has been a disappointment, is curious. Let's compare the two.

Coleman is in his 5th season, and Raheem has surpassed his output in all but one of his seasons. Coleman's best season was 800 yards with four touchdowns. This season, Mostert already has accumulated 662 yards and five touchdowns, all in a backup role as the No. 3 back with limited carries. He also has scored two touchdowns on pass receptions. Imagine what he could have accomplished this season if he had been named the lead back and treated as such from the beginning. I would wager he would be pushing 1,000 yards and be considered as a Pro Bowl running back, not just a Pro Bowl special teams gunner.

It's not too late, but you'll have to adapt your philosophy that "all three are good." Mostert has blinding speed, extremely strong legs, and amazing balance, all of which may be attributed to his world-class status as a surfer. You have a star on your hands, one who may be an all-time great if you are SEROUS about providing him the opportunity, and NOW is a better time than never.

You have two weeks left until the end of the season and another one or two until the playoffs get underway. The running game needs consistency and rhythm in the playoffs. Changing RBs like your socks does anything but and that was PAINFULLY obvious against the Falcons. Two critical games await us, and it's time to stop demonstrating your creative genius and solidifying the part of the 49er attack that will be vital from here on out. EVERY possession is important and cannot be wasted, and every time he's not in the lineup, you are not going with your best as you did against the Ravens and Saints. Simple as that.

In my opinion, Kyle, you are a superior play designer -- the best. You're also an excellent coach. However, the elephant in the room is inconsistency, and your play calling has proven to be impulsive at times and may have cost you a Super Bowl way back when. In fact, it's often aggressive until the clock is running down. Then it appears you play not to lose. For a perfect example from the King of Clock Management, just go to YouTube and watch the online video of the 49ers' final drive against the Cowboys in the Catch game. Watch the way Bill Walsh mixed the run and the pass using veteran back Lenvil Elliott. It's a refresher course in brilliance.

I may be a couch potato at this age, but I was fortunate enough to see every great 49er RB and brilliant offensive coach in the team's history from McElhenny to Mostert and Buck Shaw to Bill Walsh. This is your opportunity to get the monkey off your back, adapt, and put a truly dominant ground game on the field for the playoffs. We're all rooting for you, Kyle. This team may still go down as one of the greatest in 49er history. It's now up to you. GOOD LUCK!
  • Gary Mialocq
  • Written by:
    Native of SF. Attended Washington HIgh, CCSF and SF State University. Investor & Startup Business Consultant, Former Juvenile Detention Counselor, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, Self-employment Specialist, Real Estate Investor, Genealogist. Senior Pro Golfer.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


  • The49ersfan
    FANTASTIC Article !!!!! Couldn't have said it better myself !!! I was literally sitting here thinking the same thing while rewatching the game. Happy holidays to all !!!
    Dec 22, 2019 at 1:30 PM
    Response: Thanks for the kind comments. It seems that Kyle is finally noticing now that Raheem leads the team with over 700 yards rushing, over 850 total from scrimmage, and 8 TDs this season despite playing only part-time. He has been the most consistent and reliiable.
  • Douglas Carpenter
    All players must be ready to go in a moments notice And when a play is designed with players routes made to take advantage of that defense, it is the play calling, then the player that brings it all together.
    Dec 17, 2019 at 8:31 AM
  • mbniner
    I think the reason that Kyle likes to use all three running backs is primarily to keep them fresh. But when one doing very well he "goes with the hot hand". Let's not underestimate Coleman's talent. He is fast (not as fast as Mostert but still a speed back) and is a good pass blocker as well as a very good runner. When the blocking is there he is very good at breaking off big runs, as he has done several times this season. Brieda is excellent at squeezing through tight spaces with outstanding speed to hit the edges. Mostert has been consistently outstanding inside and outside. All three are good receivers. I have no quarrels with Kyle's approach.
    Dec 16, 2019 at 11:03 PM
    Response: He's averaging 3.3 yards per carry this season which is not "breaking off big runs several times this season."
  • Craig
    Gary, you are so right about Raheem Mostert. He is clearly the most talented RB on the field for the 49ers this year. But for some reason, Shanahan is still reluctant to use him as a true lead back, and the offense is suffering because of it. Mostert is the quickest to the line of scrimmage, and is the most decisive in reading the hole and making his cuts. He also has shown great ability to make yards after contact. I also love Breida, but he is just not that durable, and I think he is still being bothered by injury, because he doesn't looked as explosive as he did early in the year. Based on what Mostert has accomplished, why do you start Tevin Coleman in the Atlanta game? Coleman is much slower to the line, less decisive, and does not typically make a lot of yards after contact. The offense just seems to be more effective and consistent when Mostert is in there. This is pro football, so there is no need to try and balance out the carries between RB's. Best player should play. Go with the hot hand, which is Mostert. And if you have to take him off special teams to give him more touches, so be it.
    Dec 16, 2019 at 1:08 PM
    Response: Thanks for the reply, Craig. I couldn't agree with you more. Shanahan's attitude that all backs are the same is an insult to the better RBs.
  • Dan
    Coleman and Breida combined for 8 carries. Mostert had 14 carries. Not sure why you think he's not not being prioritized...
    Dec 16, 2019 at 12:49 PM
    Response: Being "prioritized" is not being the lead or feature back who is usually expected to be the starter. This was simply Shanahan's way of being different. It's too late for that. Every possession is valuable and you go with your best -- not a guy who without two games vs the Browns and Panthers (both terrible vs. the run) has averaged 2.2 yards per carry in the other games. Mostert's production was limited due to his playing time. 14 carries for 54 yards and a touchdown but the offense flows better when he's on the field and involved. The 49ers had six drives Sunday where Mostert didn't touch the ball. Those drives ended with three punts, a fumble, a field goal and a touchdown. On the four drives he did touch the ball the 49ers had a touchdown, two field goals, and a punt. Mostert has to be more involved in the offense -- PERIOD. CONTINUE READING

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