SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Working out a new contract with the San Francisco 49ers wasn’t 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.
Mostert’s wife, Devon, is expecting the couple’s 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 we’ve had, it’s 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. We’ve had more positive talks than negative. We’ve been able to communicate on a day to day basis just to understand each other’s feelings and to make sure she’s 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 wasn’t 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. Mostert’s not sure whether he will travel back for the birth, saying the couple is weighing the pros and cons of the decision.
“We’ve both had nights where we’ve cried on each other, just talking about how we’re going to manage this whole deal,” he said. “I told her flat out, ‘Hey, look, I don’t want you guys to even come to Cali. I don’t want you to be infected.’ I don’t 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 didn’t 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. He’s hoping to reach those by building on last year’s 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 Francisco’s 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.
That’s 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, ‘That’s a bad (man). He’s somebody that we can’t take lightly.’ I want to put fear in other teams' eyes. 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. That’s the mindset I’m going to have at running back. I want them to know that I’m the best running back ever to play this game, even though it doesn’t 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 doesn’t get the nod and is preparing for a heavier load if needed this season.
“I always tell myself, once I get that opportunity, I’m never gonna look back,” he said. “That’s what I got to hold myself up to. That type of standard.”
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL