Raheem Mostert enters into the 2020 season with a fresh mindset. As a former undrafted running back who has made his way across six different NFL teams before landing with the San Francisco 49ers, Mostert understands the challenges that accompany overcoming your own adversity.
His mentality has followed him throughout his playing career and while he prepares for his sixth season in the NFL. Now, the running back is eager for the rest of the league to take note of his desire to outperform any limitations.
"I just want to go out there and be dominant," Mostert said. "When I step out onto that field, I want everybody to say 'that's a bad Mo-Fo. He's somebody that we can't take lightly.' I want to put fear in other teams' eyes and that's my mindset. Even when I'm playing gunner, I just want people to know I'm the best special teams player to ever play this game. And that's the mindset I'm going have at running back. I want them to know I'm the best running back to ever play this game.
"Even though it doesn't show as far as my career (stats), I don't necessarily care about that. I always tell myself, once I get that opportunity, I'm never going to look back. And that's what I've got to hold myself up to, that type of standard."
Mostert is coming off of the most productive season of his NFL career. He averaged 5.64 yards per carry in 2019, ranking second in the NFL among all qualifying players and first among running backs. Over his last two seasons in San Francisco, he's averaged 6.04 yards per carry, leading all players in the NFL with at least 125 carries.
Although Kyle Shanahan assumes a by-committee approach to his running back units, Mostert aims to solidify himself as San Francisco's primary workhorse. He spent the offseason bulking up and adding muscle to help build the endurance to manage 20-plus carries a game. Despite more yards and carries, Mostert was third among San Francisco's running backs, averaging 8.6 carries per game in 2019.
He'll be sharing his workload with Tevin Coleman, Jeff Wilson Jr. and Jerick McKinnon, who is expected to make his debut in 2020 after consecutive sidelined seasons in San Francisco. Additionally, the 49ers signed two undrafted rookies, Salvon Ahmed and Jamycal Hasty, who will be looking to prove that they, too, are deserving of snaps.
While each back offers San Francisco a unique group of skill sets out of the backfield, the 49ers are likely to continue to operate with who has the hot hand. And Mostert is preparing himself to be that go-to guy.
"I've got to prepare myself because I am the starting running back," Mostert said. "My confidence level is just up to the guys that consider themselves to be top backs. So for me, I just have to make sure that I'm on a consistent basis and going out there and doing what I've got to do so that way I can help the team out."
Mostert was a large key to San Francisco's postseason success that included a 220-yard, four-touchdown performance against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship game, setting a franchise record for most rushing yards in a regular season or postseason game. He and the rest of San Francisco's locker room already have their sights on returning to that game and earning a shot at redemption from Super Bowl LIV.
Monday was the first opportunity of the offseason for the 49ers to assemble at the team facility following social distancing guidelines due to the effects of COVID-19. According to the running back, the team returned to Santa Clara with the same fire following the championship loss, noting the heightened energy surrounding the group.
As the team continues its ultimate focus of playing into the final game in February, a return trip just isn't enough. Mostert, along with the rest of San Francisco's locker room, are building off of their confidence (and refreshed mindset) to keep that momentum going.
"Being back with the guys definitely brings that type of energy (we) left off from last year," he added. "I know all the guys in this building have some unfinished business. We've seen all the different sayings of how a team doesn't make it back to the Super Bowl the following year. We don't care nothing about that. (George Kittle) emphasized it in the Super Bowl - he will be back. And I think that was everyone's mentality. I feel like we're going to be back this year and we're actually going to win it. That's our goal, that's our mindset."