Raheem Mostert went undrafted out of Purdue University and was waived and/or cut by six different NFL teams before he made his way to the 49ers in 2016 and landed a spot on their practice squad. After seeing his 2017 and 2018 seasons cut short due to injury, Mostert finally got the opportunity he had long been waiting for this past season, and he certainly did not waste it.
A special-teams standout -- partly out of necessity -- throughout his career, Mostert had always been an effective rusher for San Francisco, albeit in limited opportunities.
After carrying the ball 40 times over the previous two seasons combined, he received a much larger share of the workload in 2019, particularly down the backstretch of the regular season and into the playoffs. He rushed for 772 yards on 137 carries -- a 5.6 yards-per-carry average -- and eight touchdowns in the regular season, seven of which came in the final six weeks. Then, in the NFC Championship Game, he proved to be a problem for which the Green Bay Packers had no answer.
29 carries, 220 yards and four touchdowns. A conference title game performance for the ages.
Afterward, prominently featured on the stage and surrounded by his NFC Champion teammates, Mostert was able to reflect on his storybook NFL journey.
"I had one of those things where I just relived everything that was going on in my life," Mostert explained Tuesday on "The Pat McAfee Show." "I had my son with me on that stage. That was the most inspiring thing that I possibly could do in my lifetime right now. It was just one of those things for me where I just soaked it all in and looked back on my track record and the things that I've done."
In the time since, Mostert has used that precious moment as motivation.
"It really opened up my eyes to, 'Hey, look, I did this. Why stop? Just keep going, keep doing the right things, the necessary things in order to be great,'" he continued. "That's something I want to be, man. I want to be able to have a gold jacket, and the only way to do that is to be great."
The 49ers had the top rushing offense in the NFC last season, and Mostert was a significant part of it. If he wants to make it all the way to Canton, though, he'll have to pick up where he left off, and maintain that for quite some time to come.
It might not be likely, but it's not impossible, and it stands to reason that Mostert will be more involved in the rushing attack right off the bat next season. While San Francisco currently has a crowded running back group, including Tevin Coleman, Matt Breida, Jeff Wilson and Jerick McKinnon -- it won't necessarily remain that way.
Regardless of how the carries shake out, Mostert is confident the experience that group gained in nearly winning the Super Bowl will be beneficial moving forward, and potentially help push the 49ers over the top.
" ... we're not going to have the same team next year," Mostert said. "There are going to be some different pieces moving around, but the guys that did experience that, it's one of those things where we just gotta continue to build off of and do what we gotta do to get back there -- and to win."