Raheem Mostert's big game for 49ers shows Ravens what they 'missed out on'

Raheem Mostert's big game for 49ers shows Ravens what they 'missed out on'

BALTIMORE -- The Ravens had no use for Raheem Mostert four years ago.

On Sunday, he delivered his best performance as an NFL running back, and was a big reason the 49ers had a chance to beat Mostert's former team.

In a game featuring two of the league's top teams, Justin Tucker kicked a 49-yard field goal on the final play of regulation to provide the Ravens with a 20-17 victory over the 49ers.

The Ravens own the NFL's top-ranked offense, but Mostert was the most dynamic player on this day. He accounted for a big chunk of the 49ers’ offensive production with 146 yards and one touchdown on 19 carries.

Mostert had the most rushing yards for a 49ers player since Carlos Hyde ran for 193 on Dec. 11, 2016, against the New York Jets.

“I didn’t really have a good experience when I was here, but I made the most out of my opportunities,” Mostert said after his career-best performance. “I wasn’t holding onto a grudge, but I really did want to show the organization what they missed out on.”

Mostert joined the Ravens in mid-October of the 2015 season after being claimed off waivers. He was an undrafted rookie from Purdue who spent time with the Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Dolphins before landing with the Ravens. Mostert was a special-teams ace for Baltimore over the next two months while seeing action on just two offensive snaps.

“Originally, I was playing my ass off on special teams,” Mostert said. “And I thought I was going to be here for a while.”

“I can attest that Raheem was balling, too,” said 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk, who played for the Ravens at the time.

But, then, things turned weird, according to Mostert.

“I was there for eight weeks already, and they decided they wanted to cut me after one game,” Mostert said. “I don’t know what the situation was. They decided they were going to cut me. I go into the office, and they tell me I’m being released and for me to go back home to my apartment. And they called me back in and said, ‘Ah, just kidding, we’re not going to release [you].’ ”

Mostert said he was cussed out by coaches for going home. One week later, the Ravens officially released him, he said.

Mostert had a brief stay with the Chicago Bears in 2016 before ending up with the 49ers.

Over the course of his time with the 49ers, he has emerged as a valued backup running back, as well as the team’s top special-teams player.

Coach Kyle Shanahan and running backs coach Bobby Turner decided to stick with the hot hand against the Ravens after the 49ers’ ground game started having success with Mostert playing ahead of starter Tevin Coleman.

“I thought he was running great once he got in there,” Shanahan said. “I saw a few of the runs he made. He was pressing it real well.”

Said 49ers left guard Laken Tomlinson: “Raheem did a really good job of moving the rock. That definitely gave us momentum as an offense, and guys feed off that. He did a really good job with the decisions he made.”

With the 49ers down 14-7, Mostert tied the score with a 40-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. He picked up big blocks from tackle Mike McGlinchey, guard Mike Person, tight end George Kittle and receiver Richie James along the way.

“He’s really fast,” Kittle said. “He was fantastic.”

[RELATED: Why Andrews had to troll Bosa in Ravens' win vs. 49ers]

Mostert received a greater opportunity in recent weeks with leading rusher Matt Breida out of action for three games with an ankle sprain. Mostert already has a career-best 539 yards and three touchdowns with a gaudy 5.9-yard average on the season.

“You got to have that mindset to go in there and play ball,” Mostert said. “I don’t really look at it, as I’m not right now. I look at it as it’s another opportunity for me to go out and showcase what I can do and be a better person and better player for my team.”

Falcons coach Dan Quinn defends Kyle Shanahan's Super Bowl play-calling

Falcons coach Dan Quinn defends Kyle Shanahan's Super Bowl play-calling

While a lot of the football world criticized Kyle Shanahan for how things went wrong in the fourth quarter of the Falcons' 34-28 loss to the Patriots in Super Bowl 51, Dan Quinn remembers a lot of the things that went right that day.

“There’s always criticism after the fact, but he made a hell of a lot of good calls, too,” the Falcons coach said Wednesday on a conference call with Bay Area reporters.

Shanahan got out of his contract with the Cleveland Browns after the 2014 season so he could join Quinn’s staff as the Falcons’ offensive coordinator. Shanahan spent two seasons working under Quinn.

Shanahan and Quinn will meet for the first time as head coaches Sunday at Levi’s Stadium when the 49ers play host to the Falcons.

Under Shanahan’s offensive guidance, the Falcons had the league’s highest-scoring team and the No. 2-ranked offense in yards, and quarterback Matt Ryan won the NFL’s MVP with the best season of his career. Shanahan was named NFL Assistant Coach of the Year.

But after leading the New England Patriots, 28-3, in the second half of Super Bowl 51, things fell apart.

Shanahan was roundly criticized for being too aggressive with his play calls, the Falcons’ defense imploded, and the Patriots rallied for the victory in overtime. Critics point to a strip-sack of Ryan in the middle of the fourth quarter with the Falcons leading by 16 points and the failure to run the ball later to chew up more clock.

“If there were one or two (calls) that he’d like to have back, well, that is in any game,” Quinn said. “I’d love to have any game rip and go like you want. But all of it, you learn from. And then you don’t really get to apply it until you’re in that moment again.

“The guy is a hell of a play-caller, and a hell of a football coach. I think he proved that then, and continues to do that today.”

The following day, Feb. 6, 2017, the 49ers officially announced Shanahan as the organization’s 20th head coach.

The 49ers currently rank No. 2 in points (30.5) and fourth in yards (388.6), while the Falcons are 14th in points (23.1) and seventh in yards (376.5).

The 49ers (11-2) are tied with the Baltimore Ravens for the best record in the NFL. The Falcons (4-9) are playing much better, winning three of their past five games.

Quinn said he always has been impressed with Shanahan’s ability to adapt his scheme, going back to when he implemented the read option in Washington with Robert Griffin as his quarterback.

“Here, we ripped it quite a bit with Matt,” Quinn said. “Now, he’s back in terms of the run game and how that’s a factor. I think he’s done it in a number of different ways. I wouldn’t say I don’t think it’s more emptying the playbook one side or the other. But what he’s always had is a really bold and aggressive nature to make plays.”

[RELATED: Why 49ers' McGlinchey can't wait to face Falcons QB Ryan]

Shanahan was particularly creative with his play-calling in the 49ers’ 48-46 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. Quinn said it goes back to Shanahan’s preparation and his “concrete way” he builds a game plan.

“I think that’s an example in that game of, ‘OK, we’re going to have to score some points,’ and find some ways to create some momentum, and he was bold enough to do that,” Quinn said. “That really sums up who he is as a play-caller.”

NFL rumors: 49ers re-signing Dontae Johnson with Richard Sherman injured

NFL rumors: 49ers re-signing Dontae Johnson with Richard Sherman injured

The 49ers have re-signed cornerback Dontae Johnson and wide receiver Jordan Matthews, the team announced Wednesday morning.

The 49ers expect to be without starter Richard Sherman for multiple games due to a strained right hamstring. 

Ahkello Witherspoon and Emmanuel Moseley are expected to be the 49ers’ starting cornerbacks as long as Sherman is out of action. Johnson provides depth in the 49ers’ defensive backfield, along with D.J. Reed.

Johnson, 28, was among the 49ers’ final cuts before the start of the regular season. He re-signed with the club on Oct. 3 and was waived on Nov. 11. Adam Caplan of Sirius-XM NFL Radio first reported the re-signing of Johnson.

Johnson (6-foot-2, 200 pounds) has appeared in 71 games in his NFL career with 22 starts. He played his first four NFL seasons with the 49ers from 2014 to ’17 after being selected in the fourth round of the 2014 draft.

[RELATED: 49ers place Goodwin on season-ending injured reserve]

Matthews also was one of the team's final cuts before the regular season. He re-signed with the club on Oct. 3, but was then cut three weeks later. The six-year pro has 3,288 career receiving yards and 22 touchdowns. 

Center Weston Richburg also was placed on season-ending injured reserve. He tore his patellar tendon on Sunday against the Saints.