By Tzali Nislick
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on Wednesday that 49ers running back Raheem Mostert has requested a trade. Mostert played a key role in San Francisco’s run to the Super Bowl last year, averaging 17.4 fantasy points per game in the team’s final six regular season games and running for 336 yards and five scores in the playoffs. The 49ers already parted ways with Matt Breida, trading him to Miami during the draft, but the backfield remains crowded with Mostert, Tevin Coleman, Jeff Wilson and Jerick McKinnon.
If the Niners do trade their talented back, it would mean Coleman would be the presumptive starter and his stock would inevitably go up. But I’m not so sure that he would return starting-caliber production. If there’s one thing we know about Kyle Shanahan’s running back usage, it’s that it’s tough to predict week to week. Since he became the 49ers head coach in 2017, he’s had five different running backs start a game and three of them have at least 11 starts in the last three years. Mostert didn’t even start a game last year and he still had a fantasy significant role in the second half of the season. Add in the fact that McKinnon is coming back into the fold after missing the last two seasons due to injury. and suddenly Coleman’s price might outweigh his value. Coleman should still be given the first opportunity to win the job but I wouldn’t be surprised if the 49ers turn to a RBBC in 2020 should they trade Mostert.
So where does that leave Mostert? I think any trade out of San Francisco hurts his fantasy value since most teams already have a clear cut starter or have drafted a running back in recent years. Also running backs haven’t always fared as well without Shanahan calling plays as they have with him. Should be traded from San Francisco, it’s almost assured his value will drop significantly. Nevertheless here’s three imperfect situations where Mostert could thrive if given the opportunity.
New England Patriots – the Patriots have always been very unpredictable with how they utilize their running backs as well, but Mostert could be a fit here. Sony Michel underwent a procedure on his foot in May and with his timeline up in the air, there’s a possibility he lands on the PUP list to begin the season. That would leave James White, Rex Burkhead and Damien Harris battling it out for snaps. Those three combined for just 577 rushing yards last season so if Michel were to miss time, Mostert could jump in and make an impact.
Jacksonville Jaguars – behind Leonard Fournette, who has never played a full 16 games, the Jags don’t have much. They signed Chris Thompson during the offseason, but he’s carried the ball just 80 times in the last two years and should serve primarily asa pass-catching option out of the backfield. At the very least, Mostert would be a terrific backup to an oft injured and unhappy Fournette who’s on the last year of his rookie contract.
Tennessee Titans – this is a similar situation to Jacksonville. After Derrick Henry it’s third round rookie Darrynton Evans… and that’s about it. Although Henry has been very durable so far in his NFL career, it wouldn’t hurt to have some insurance behind the guy who led the league in carries last year, especially given his affinity for contact. Mostert would provide the Titans with valuable depth needed in a championship squad and, playing behind the best offensive line in the league, he would be an interesting player to manage in all leagues and formats. Out of all the fits, this might just be the best for the embattled back.