Working out a new contract with the San Francisco 49ers wasnt the only thing Raheem Mostert had to do before deciding whether to play football this season.
There was a much more important family matter to deal with as well.
Mosterts wife, Devon, is expecting the couples second child in September and will spend the season back home in Ohio with their 1-year-old boy while Mostert plays in the Bay Area.
Mostert ultimately decided to play this season instead of opting out like dozens of other players have chosen to do in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The discussions weve had, its been long and extensive, he said Wednesday. But she understands the importance of me being out here and being able to provide for the family and all those good things. Weve had more positive talks than negative. Weve been able to communicate on a day to day basis just to understand each others feelings and to make sure shes at ease especially at a time like this with the uncertainty of COVID, as well as having the birth of our second boy.
While the decision was made, it wasnt an easy one. Mostert has taken the pandemic very seriously, even pulling out of an autograph show in early March before most people in the sports world were taking the problem seriously.
Devon and the kids will spend the season in Cleveland instead of traveling to the Bay Area. Mosterts not sure whether he will travel back for the birth, saying the couple is weighing the pros and cons of the decision.
Weve both had nights where weve cried on each other, just talking about how were going to manage this whole deal, he said. I told her flat out, Hey, look, I dont want you guys to even come to Cali. I dont want you to be infected. I dont want my 1-year-old to be infected as well as the new addition to our family. So we were able to work it out.
Mostert was in the news earlier this offseason when his agent publicly demanded a trade if the Niners didnt rework a three-year contract that paid Mostert as a core special teams player instead the dynamic back he developed into late last season.
Mostert got new incentives that can reportedly almost double his salary of $2.875 million this season. Hes hoping to reach those by building on last years breakthrough season.
After being cut by six teams and carrying the ball only eight times his first three seasons in the NFL, Mostert was a key part of San Franciscos NFC title winning season in his fifth year in 2019.
He led the 49ers in rushing last season with 772 yards and provided the signature performance of his career on the big stage of the NFC championship game when he ran for 220 yards and four touchdowns in a 37-20 win over Green Bay that sent the Niners to the Super Bowl.
Thats the type of performance he wants to repeat this season.
I just want to go out there and be dominant, he said. When I step out onto that field, I want everybody to say, Thats a bad (man). Hes somebody that we cant take lightly. I want to put fear in other teams’ eyes. Thats my mindset. Even when Im playing gunner, I just want people to know Im the best special teams player to ever play this game. Thats the mindset Im going to have at running back. I want them to know that Im the best running back ever to play this game, even though it doesnt show as far as my career-wise.
Despite all that success last season, Mostert still has never started a game in the NFL as he has been mostly a part-time player whose only game with at least 20 carries came against the Packers in the playoffs.
He said he considers himself a starter even if he doesnt get the nod and is preparing for a heavier load if needed this season.
I always tell myself, once I get that opportunity, Im never gonna look back, he said. Thats what I got to hold myself up to. That type of standard.
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