Raheem Mostert barely had any rushing stats to speak of before the 2019 season. The 49ers running back only had 42 carries in four previous NFL seasons, with his first two spent floating around the league.

He was cut six times before landing with the 49ers in 2016 but kept getting signed by teams intrigued by his breakneck speed. He never was able to find a home, until he established himself as a core member of the 49ers’ special teams.

He was a rare player who worked on all special teams units, on coverage and return for both kickoffs and punts, while assisting with field goals and field goal blocks.

He worked hard on those often-overlooked units, willing to do the dirty work to help the 49ers win on special teams. He gained respect in the organization, practiced hard as a running back and eventually earned his shot.

Mostert became an offensive fixture in 2019, with 772 yards and eight touchdowns on 137 regular season carries. He had 952 yards of total offense over 16 games, before really turning it on in the playoffs. He put himself on the league-wide map with an unreal NFC Championship game, where he had 220 yards and four touchdowns against the Green Bay Packers.

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Mostert will remain an offensive fixture in 2020, even with Tevin Coleman back and Jerick McKinnon healthy again. That means he’ll do fewer special teams with a heavy offensive workload, but he remains a strong presence among those active in the kicking game.

Special teams coordinator Richard Hightower brings Mostert up regularly in meetings as an example of how hard work can earn opportunities at a player’s regular position.

“I know it’s public knowledge now that Raheem was on six different teams, but we’ve been talking about that for a long time,” Hightower said during the 49ers’ State of the Franchise event, which was conducted virtually this year and posted on 49ers.com. “We make sure every rookie knows that coming in, that every young guy understands what Raheem had to do to get where he is.

“We have so many examples of that. Our personnel people have done a great job getting guys in who understand what it takes to win games and play complimentary football.”

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Special teams units normally are populated by younger players around a veteran core who make a living working the kicking game. Hightower makes a point that special teams helps you stick in the league while developing for an opportunity to work regularly on offense or defense.

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Mostert is a shining example of that.

“That’s something we promote in our room,” Hightower said “We want those guys to play really well on special teams and get their opportunity. If they get a chance on offense or defense, that means somebody noticed them and that they’re helping the team in more than one way. That's what we preach, and our young guys know that.”