Prior to joining the 49ers back in 2016, Raheem Mostert bounced around from six different NFL clubs before finding his home in San Francisco. As an undrafted running back fighting his way up the depth chart, let alone landing a spot on the roster, it's not always easy adjusting to being the new guy in the locker room.
Mostert was signed to the 49ers practice squad in November of 2016, and as any player hoping to make his mark, he was eager to find his way onto the 49ers gameday roster. Spending time eating alone at the team's facility, he sought the advice of one of the 49ers most revered players to navigate success as an NFL running back: Joe Staley.
Two seasons prior to Mostert's arrival, San Francisco parted ways with longtime running back Frank Gore. Drafted by San Francisco in the third round of the 2005 NFL Draft, Gore notched eight 1,000-yard seasons in his 10 seasons with the 49ers. As the 49ers all-time leading rusher, Gore has amassed 13,956 yards from scrimmage (11,073 rushing and 2,883 receiving) to go along with 75 total touchdowns (64 rushing and 11 receiving) and was also named to five Pro Bowls with San Francisco. As an esteemed former member of the 49ers, Mostert looked to Staley, who spent eight seasons blocking for Gore, on how to follow in the future Hall of Famer's footsteps.
"When I first got to the 49ers after being cut by Chicago, Joe really took me under his wing," Mostert explained. "I asked him, what does it take for a guy like me to be like Frank Gore because Frank Gore is my idol. I love watching him play. He just flat out told me 'Frankie G - he likes to work.'
"That's what he was basically telling me. Like, 'Hey look, you've got to be like Frank, man. You're a great running back and I could just tell just by your personality, but you've also got ball skills. Frankie G works really hard, he's probably one of the hardest working guys that I know.'"
Mostert made his way onto the active roster a month later and earned himself an increasing role each season thereafter. Following two promising back-to-back seasons that eventually would end on Injured Reserve, Mostert earned a three-year contract extension last offseason after proving himself as a valuable contributor on special teams.
Mostert emerged as a breakout star in 2019, leading San Francisco with 772 rushing yards and eight touchdowns while averaging 5.6 yards per carry during the regular season. His most notable performance came in the NFC Championship game where the running back rattled off a 220-yard, four-touchdown performance against the Green Bay Packers, becoming the second player in NFL playoff history to accomplish the feat.
Coming off of the most productive season in his NFL career, Mostert uses the lessons absorbed from Staley to guide other ball carriers looking to make their mark in the NFL.
"That's something that I try to tell a lot of running backs when they come into this offense," Mostert continued. "No matter what, when you come into this building, if you want to be like somebody you've got to adapt to their attitude and to their mentality."
Mostert has spent the offseason bulking up in preparations for building off of his 2019 success. Prior to last season, Mostert never amassed more than 40 touches in a single season. With the departure of Matt Breida this offseason, Mostert could see an increase in responsibilities in 2020. He admitted to adding more muscle this offseason to take hits and manage a 200-plus-carry load.
"My hunger right now, more than ever, is so pure," he added. "I want to just get back to that level and exceed what I did last year, times 10. That's just my mindset, right now. Just got to take care of the little things, and the little things is honing in on these meetings, and going out there on the field in my front yard, and doing my drill work."
Over the past several months, Mostert has focused on trying to improve his pass-catching abilities to develop as a receiver. Despite an unusual offseason, Mostert is continuing his attempt at living up to the standard Gore continues to display. Standing third on the NFL's all-time rushing yards list, Gore's work ethic is evident as the running back just signed with the New York Jets this offseason in what will be his 16th NFL season. The opportunity to live up to Gore's legacy through sacrifice, commitment and resolve only adds to Mostert's "hunger" to succeed.
"I just try to live up to that expectation of Frankie G and just go out there and try to give it my all," he said.