Running back Raheem Mostert isn’t going anywhere.
The head of the snake in the San Francisco 49ers backfield, and one of the speediest rushers in all of the NFL, Mostert grappled with injury on and off last season, ultimately missing eight regular season starts and leaving multiple games early in which he was hurt.
The Niners’ RB1 was a limited participant in the team’s voluntary offseason workout program and has sported a knee brace every day of training camp thus far. But that protection is standard operating procedure, Mostert explained following Thursday’s practice, and has been for years.
Mostert later took issue on Twitter with media members potentially co-opting the imagery of him on a practice field in a brace to create speculative stories about some faux injury that the running back said would be entirely without merit.
“I am going to address this one time and one time only. I am NOT injured, and to the media trying to make something out of NOTHING, I won’t allow it,” Mostert wrote on Twitter Thursday evening, July 29, following the second day of official practices. “I wear a knee brace in practice for PREVENTION and for my LONGEVITY in this league.”
“I had this brace made YEARS AGO and wore it in other training camps/practices. Why is it a focus now?” Mostert continued. “I won’t allow you to put me into your “hole” of being old, washed up, and injured. I’m just getting started!”
Mostert’s Twitter Comments Came as Response to Question, Not Story
Mostert was asked by a reporter after his second training camp session why he wore the knee brace during practices but not during games.
“Uh, yeah, so I’ve been wearing this brace, even two years ago when I had got an MRI. It’s just the longevity aspect. I intend to play this game for another four, five, six years if I can,” Mostert said in response to the question. “So, anything that helps prevent my career being shortened, I’m going to take those measures. That’s the sole reason why I wear the brace.”
It appears that the question, and the subsequent potential for speculation, got to Mostert as he chewed it over the rest of the day. It was not until several hours later that the running back displayed his frustration publicly in a social media post.
Mostert Has Modest, But Significant Injury History
Whatever the reporter was trying to accomplish, whether they were trying to manufacture a story or not, inquiries into Mostert’s health are not without merit — especially not after last season.
The running back has only been in the league six years with 58 games played to his credit, according to Pro Football Reference. And while that doesn’t sound like all that much tread, it’s a degree of longevity not often found NFL players, particularly running backs, who tend to suffer more severe injuries and have even shorter professional lifespans than those who play essentially every other position.
Mostert missed two games with an MCL sprain in 2020, and another six due to two separate ankle sprains. All three were sustained during regular season games.
The Niners’ lead running back started all eight of his contests this year but perhaps the starting burden, and the multitude of run/pass touches that accompany it, fed into Mostert’s nagging injury concerns. The speedster played in all 16 games the season prior, but did so as a complementary back rather than a starter.
Throughout his career in San Francisco, Mostert has also suffered a broken arm, a concussion, and a previous MCL sprain, among other, less serious, injuries.
The Niners have a deep running back group with Jeff Wilson Jr., who is expected to miss several weeks to start the season due to a knee injury, Wayne Gallman Jr., Trey Sermon, Elijah Mitchell, and JaMycal Hasty.
If Mostert goes down, there is plenty of talent to fill in. The more pertinent question is whether there will be a starting job left for Mostert to return to should he suffer injury problems in 2021 similar to those that plagued him throughout last season.