The San Francisco 49ers are officially down their top running back for the entire season.
Starter Raheem Mostert announced on Tuesday, September 14 that he will miss the rest of the year after suffering a knee injury two days prior during the Niners’ season opener — a 41-33 victory over the Detroit Lions.
The running back took to Twitter on Tuesday afternoon to share the news after consulting with several medical professionals. He wrote the following:
After consulting with multiple doctors and weighing my options, I will be having season ending surgery to repair my knee.
This gives me, without a doubt in my mind, the best possibility at coming back 110%. I have ALWAYS come back stronger and I will this time too! I have faith in myself, my doctors, my support system, my team, and God. He makes no mistakes.
I’m gutted. This sucks! This is obviously not what I worked so hard for. I wish more than anything I could be out there on the field with my brothers!!!
I’M FAR FROM DONE!”
Mostert’s Injury Clears Way for Young Backups to Shine
The starting job for the Niners is now likely to fall to Elijah Mitchell, who set himself apart in Week 1 against the Lions.
Mitchell, a 23-year-old rookie out of Louisiana who San Francisco drafted with the 194th pick in the 6th round of the 2021 NFL draft, carried the ball 19 times during his first ever NFL outing. He rushed for a total of 104 yards, averaging an impressive 5.5 yards per carry, and scoring a touchdown, albeit against what is expected to be one of the worst defenses in the league this season.
The 25-year-old JaMycal Hasty, now in his second year with the Niners, snagged 1 goal line carry for 3 yards and a touchdown. He also caught a pass for a 15-yard gain.
Mostert carried the ball just twice for 20 yards before being knocked out for the year with torn cartilage in his knee.
Trey Sermon, selected by San Francisco in the third round in this year’s draft, was a healthy scratch Sunday. Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan said the decision was based on production, despite Sermon receiving a healthy dose of snaps with the first team in the preseason. He noted that the rookie took the news well.
With Mostert now out, Sermon is likely to be elevated to the active roster for the team’s matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, September 19.
Jeff Wilson Jr., who led the Niners in rushing yards last season despite missing time himself, is currently sidelined with a knee issue of his own. He hurt the joint standing up from a chair in the team locker room following a weight training session during preseason workouts, but is expected to return some time before the midway point of the regular season.
Mostert’s Future With Niners Could be in Jeopardy
Mostert, now a seven-year veteran, is on the last year of his contract with the 49ers. While at this point only pure speculation, the hit he took in Detroit could spell the end of the running back’s time with San Francisco.
The speedster has been good for the Niners when healthy, but a combination of injuries while in San Francisco and a lack of playing time before that show a track record that indicates Mostert will have a tough time ever staying on the field.
According to Pro Football Reference, Mostert has appeared in 59 total games, the equivalent of more than 3.5 full seasons. He has only registered more than 100 carries during two seasons during his NFL tenure, 2019 and 2020 with the Niners.
In fact, Mostert has only carried the football a total of 284 times throughout his entire career. Derrick Henry, the Tennessee Titans running back who led the league in rushing attempts in 2020, carried the ball 378 times during that season alone.
Mostert has also been targeted just 48 times in the passing game over the course of his career, recording 36 receptions.
The Niners names Mostert their starter at running back last season, during which he played just 8 games due to multiple lower body injuries. He played in all 16 games the year prior, but started none of them.
San Francisco spending two draft picks on the running back position this year was a bad omen for Mostert from the start, and the Niners appear to have several cheaper and more durable options at their disposal moving forward with a young, deep roster at the RB spot.
Team officials have offered no comment as to Mostert’s future in San Francisco, and likely will not before the offseason arrives. He will become an unrestricted free agent once the season ends. The Niners will pay him more than $3 million in salary over the course of 2021-22.