Raheem Mostert has asked for a trade, but the 49ers shouldn’t be forced into acting on the request.
With negotiations about a new contract apparently going nowhere, according to his agent Brett Tessler, San Francisco 49ers running back Raheem Mostert has asked for a trade.
Mostert has two years left on the three-year, $8.77 million extension he signed in March of 2019. He is set to make $2.575 million in base salary this year, and would like to be paid more like backfield mate Tevin Coleman ($4.55 million this year). So Mostert’s demands are not excessive, and he certainly has a case for a raise in pay.
Mostert had a breakthrough season in 2019, leading the 49ers with 772 rushing yards on a robust 5.6 yards per carry. In the NFC Championship Game he spearheaded a rushing attack that dominated the Green Bay Packers, with 29 carries for 220 yards and four touchdowns. Over the final eight games last year (including playoffs), he scored 11 rushing touchdowns while averaging 6.1 yards per carry.
49ers’ head coach Kyle Shanahan is one of the top offensive minds in the NFL today. In his system, with roots back to his father Mike’s offense as head coach of the Denver Broncos, running backs are set up to succeed. But Kyle’s best work may have come with a quarterback, when Nick Mullens made eight starts in place of an injured Jimmy Garoppolo in 2018. The then-undrafted rookie out Southern Miss averaged 8.3 yards per attempt and 12.9 yard per completion over that stretch. Scheme and play-calling over personnel at its finest.
The 49ers traded a running back this offseason, sending Matt Breida to the Miami Dolphins. But Coleman, Mostert, a possibly finally healthy Jerick McKinnon and Jeff Wilson are still in the mix. McKinnon’s situation, with a torn ACL and setbacks preventing him from playing a game in two seasons since signing a four-year, $30 million deal, stands to make the 49ers hesitant to invest in Mostert.
A half-season sample is not enough to confirm that Mostert is a good running back, and the devaluation of the position (right or wrong) has to be noted. As NBC Sports Bay Area noted, Mostert’s base salary for 2020 is the 18th-highest among NFL running backs. So there’s an argument on the 49ers’ side that he’s already being paid like a starter, with two years left on his deal.
There’s nothing wrong with Mostert wanting to be paid more, and given the short shelf life of running backs he needs to maximize his window. But a trade wouldn’t really change anything unless a new team gave him a new contract right away, and there aren’t (or shouldn’t be) many teams that would do that.
The 49ers hold all the cards with Mostert, since any course of action he can take (the trade request, threatening and/or following through on a holdout) would not necessarily benefit him or would ultimately hurt him.
Unless a team comes with an offer that shouldn’t be refused (a third-round pick or more?), the 49ers can be content to keep Mostert this year with no fear of repercussions.