On Sunday, one player coming off an injury wanted to play. He did not play well.
Another player who was cleared to play let the coaching staff know he would rather step on the field only in an emergency.
And then there was 49ers running back Raheem Mostert.
He insisted on playing. And when he stepped on the field after a two-week absence due to a knee injury, he was the 49ers’ best player and lone bright spot on an otherwise dreadful day against the Miami Dolphins.
Mostert sought out coach Kyle Shanahan on the practice field last Thursday to lobby for his spot back in the 49ers’ starting lineup after sustaining a right knee sprain in the first half of the 49ers’ Week 2 game against the New York Jets.
“Hey, look,” Mostert said he told Shanahan, “if there’s any indecision between your judgment, I just want you to know that I’m ready to go.
“He looked at me and said, ‘All right, that’s all I needed to know.’”
Mostert started and played half of the 49ers’ offensive snaps in the game. He saw less action in the second half, as the 49ers fell behind by a large margin and scrapped their running game. Mostert gained 90 yards on 11 rushing attempts.
But he was not satisfied with his entire game. Mostert admitted he blew a blitz pickup in the 49ers’ 43-17 loss to the Dolphins. He said he has worked extra hard this week to make sure that does not happen again.
Mostert said it was important for him to get back on the field before the 49ers face their most-difficult stretch of the season, beginning Sunday night against the Los Angeles Rams at Levi’s Stadium.
“I needed this game to at least get myself back up under me and get my legs back and take those hits,” he said. “That way, these next several games we have, it’s going to be some challenging times. I just wanted to go out there last week and bounce back from my injury. I did just that.”
Mostert’s decision to come back and his performance stood in contrast to what the 49ers experienced in Week 5 with two of their other players.
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo also wanted to get back on the field after missing two games with a high ankle sprain. But he did not look healthy, struggled and was benched at halftime.
Cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon missed two games with hamstring tightness. He told the coaches he could not start but he could play if he were needed. After starter Brian Allen got beaten repeatedly in the first half, Witherspoon volunteered to play.
Mostert’s injury and situation were different.
But he expressed a desire to get back on the field while also believing, correctly, he could be a benefit to the team.
“It’s all mental when you’re dealing with an injury and you’re supposed to come back,” Mostert said. “But you also got to take into account that you have to take care of your body and you got to listen to your body. Last week, my body was telling me that I was ready to go.”