Matt Breida Raheem Mostert 49ers
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Why Losing Matt Breida and Potentially Raheem Mostert would be a big loss for the 49ers

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The San Francisco 49ers traded running back Matt Breida to the Miami Dolphins this offseason. Another one of their running backs, Raheem Mostert, has reportedly asked for a trade. If this trade happens, it would be a massive loss for the defending NFC Champs, but things are looking up as the RB has reached out to the team as of yesterday.

 

Why Losing Matt Breida and Potentially Raheem Mostert is a big loss for the 49ers
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Even though Jimmy Garoppolo has improved, the 49ers offense heavily depended on their run game last season. They were 2nd in the NFL in rushing attempts per game. Losing Mostert could severely hurt their attack for the upcoming future. The 49ers trading away Breida wasn’t a huge deal at first because they also had Tevin Coleman and Raheem Mostert. Mostert put up high numbers in the playoffs making some fans feel the team no longer needed the oft-injured Breida.

First, that does not mean losing Breida doesn’t impact their team. Breida, when healthy, is a force in the running game. Secondly, losing Mostert could decimate one of the best running back rooms in the league. Despite only starting five games last season, Breida ran for more yards than Coleman, who had 137 rushing attempts compared to Breida’s 123. Coleman also played one more game than Breida did with14 games opposed to Breida’s 13. This is not to dismiss Coleman being a better player than Bredia, Coleman rushed for six touchdowns compared to Breida’s one.

The point I’m proving is Breida’s production played a significant role in the 49ers running-based offense. They used all three of their primary running-backs, which helps lower the output for every one of them, meaning they were more rested and played better since they were splitting the load. Missing out on Bredia’s 123 rushing attempts will hurt the 49ers offense. Many feel running backs are a dime a dozen and that they will find a replacement quickly. The first point is debatable, but finding a new running back for a unique system could be tough. Now they might have to find 2 of them if they end up trading Mostert.

 

Losing Mostert would significantly change the Niners offensive rushing attack.

 

Why Losing Matt Breida and Potentially Raheem Mostert is a big loss for the 49ers
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Even though he did not start a single game last season, he led the team in rushing attempts, rushing yards, and rushing touchdowns. Starting does not equal more productivity. Mostert proved that last season as he led the team in all three of those major rushing statistics without a single start during the season. His role was massive for the 49ers. Losing their leader in most rushing statistics is not a good sign for the future with a running based system like theirs.

Mostert ran for a total of 137 rushing attempts last season, losing out on that plus Breida’s production in the same offseason means 260 fewer combined rushing attempts after just one offseason! Breida also proved he could be extremely productive when it counts the most. During last playoffs, he rushed for 336 yards and five touchdowns, which was a significant reason the 49ers made it to the super bowl.

To give an idea of how much he helped the team, Garoppolo only threw for 427 yards and two touchdowns throughout those playoffs. That means Mostert produced only 91 fewer yards than his quarterback and produced four more touchdowns! All statements using the words “would have” in sports are severely debatable, but it’s pretty safe to say that the 49ers would have struggled a lot more to beat the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship if it was not for their defense and Mostert.

Garoppolo threw only eight passes that game, completing 6 of them for 77 yards. This is not to discredit Garoppolo; since the running was working that well, it made complete sense not to throw the ball. While that statement works for that game, the Super Bowl showed that if the 49ers do not get to run the ball as many times as they typically do, their offensive game plan takes a massive hit.

 

So, what does this mean for the 49ers team as a whole?

 

Losing both running backs if the Mostert trade goes through severely impacts the team’s offensive playstyle. The new running backs may not be as productive, may not be as good, and may not be able to split the number of rushing attempts like the 2019 regular season trio did. The trio was unique because their statistics, such as their carries and yards, were all very close, meaning their production was split strategically.

That is not to say they absolutely cannot find replacements.

 

Why Losing Matt Breida and Potentially Raheem Mostert is a big loss for the 49ers
Photo Credit: Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

Kyle Shanahan is known as a great coach for running backs. He has had a successful past as an offensive coordinator with running backs, and the type of production teams look for. This means certain players can have great years in his system then never reach that fame anywhere else. Examples of this are Steve Slaton, Alfred Morris, and Ryan Torain. It is not the ideal situation to be in, and it is a significant loss to lose two productive running backs, but that does not mean it is the absolute end of the world for the 49ers should Mostert leave the team.

To maintain the success they had last season, one of three events needs to occur. #1, They’ve done it before. They could use other backups or find new running backs that perfectly fit their system, as they did with Breida and Mostert, ironically. #2, they could continue to build on a stout defense that could become even better and more dominant than it was before, keeping opponents’ scores low. #3, Jimmy Garoppolo could perform better, so reliance on the running game won’t be so heavy. The 49ers averaged 32 rushes per game last season. Every game in which they did not produce at least 32 rushes, they lost!

Naturally, if they are losing, they will throw more. That means those losses are caused by defensive performance as well as other possibilities, but it is still a statistic that can bring fear to the 49ers. It shows that when forced to throw more, they struggle more. It also shows that they need the proper running backs that will get the team a high number of carries. They will have to be productive enough to win with those carries as well. If one of the three events I listed earlier does not occur, the 49ers will be in trouble next season.

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-Kyle Randolph – Franchise Sports Media

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