Postgame Buzz: Breaking down the 49ers win over the Raiders with third-string QB Nick Mullens in charge
The 49ers look like they’ll be without running back, and special teams standout, Raheem Mostert for the rest of the season after he fractured his right arm in the 34-3 victory over the Oakland Raiders on Thursday night at Levi’s Stadium.
“(The training staff) didn’t tell me, but I would assume so with a broken arm,” coach Kyle Shanahan said afterward.
Mostert paced San Francisco with 86 yards on just seven carries against the Raiders, including a career-best 53-yard weave for a touchdown in the third quarter. It was his first NFL score. He left the game the following possession with the gruesome looking injury and immediately had his arm put in an air cast.
It would be the second season-ending injury for a 49ers running back this year. The team lost starter Jerick McKinnon a week before the opener with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee.
Including Thursday, Mostert rushed for 250 yards in his last four games on just 28 carries, good for a 8.9-yard average. He emerged as a viable complement to Matt Breida when he broke out with 87 yards on Oct. 15 in Green Bay. And because Breida has been working through ankle, knee and shoulder injuries throughout the season, Mostert quickly asserted himself as a valuable cog to Shanahan’s offense.
Fortunately for San Francisco, they won’t play again until Nov. 12 when they host the New York Giants on “Monday Night Football.” It could offer Breida, who entered the week questionable with a sore ankle, a chance to get healthy for the second half of the season.
Sherman praises Shanahan, locker room chemistry — The 49ers hit a low point four days before Thursday’s win when they lost to the one-win Cardinals for the second time this year.
Quarterback C.J. Beathard struggled and Shanahan, perhaps for the first time since taking over in 2017, caught heat for his team failing to come through in winnable games.
Cornerback Richard Sherman following the win over Oakland wasn’t having it.
“I think you hear a lot of talk about ‘This scheme is not working’ and ‘Kyle is doing this and this guy is on the hot seat,’ ” Sherman said. “I don’t think any of that is true. I think it’s unfortunate because you have to say something. The team is 1-7, not winning games. We’re playing close, we’re competitive but we’re not closing out so you’ve got to make stories, obviously.
“But I think at the end of the day, Kyle is doing a phenomenal job just keeping the ship steady,” he said. “That’s why there’s no drama. There’s no controversy.”
It was clear on Thursday the two Bay Area teams, who both entered the game with one victory, are in far different places. The Raiders’ effort appeared to wane, particularly in the second half while Mostert went for his long touchdown.
But the 49ers have continued to play hard for Shanahan, even if losing would be in the team’s best interest for positioning in the upcoming NFL draft. Sherman noted the injuries, including to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and running back Jerick McKinnon, have affected his first season in San Francisco.
“Guys are just playing for each other, caring about one another and playing for their coach,” he said. “When you lose your starting quarterback, you design the offense around him. You design the offense to his strengths and to what he does well. You lose your starting running back, same thing is true. So you have to make adjustments.
“We’ve lost a ton of guys throughout the year and there’s never once been a complaint like ‘Oh, man it’s lost because we lost the starting quarterback, we lost our starting running back or this guy is banged up.’ Guys just keep stepping up and doing what they can to give us a chance to win and we appreciate that and that’s what Nick (Mullens) did tonight.”
Kittle continuing his strong season — Tight end George Kittle led the 49ers in receiving for the sixth time this season, logging four receptions for 108 yards. It was his second 100-yard performance this year (he had 98 yards Week 7) and he scored his third touchdown.
He has 682 yards this season and is averaging nearly 76 yards per game, which puts him on pace for 1,212 yards over a full 16-game slate. No 49ers tight end has ever eclipsed 1,000 yards.
“He impressed me a lot last year,” Shanahan said. “I think he’s only gotten better. You only get better or worse and he’s a guy who’s gotten a lot better after playing at a pretty high-level last year.
“George, I think people underestimate or don’t talk enough about how good he is for us in the run game. He’s a very good run blocker. He’s a very physical player. I think everyone is starting to see how good he is in the pass game. What’s been the most impressive is when you get the ball in his hands, you guys can just see that he has a certain attitude to him that he’s trying to score every time he touches the ball, whether he’s 80 yards away or two yards away.”
Kittle has been mostly healthy this season, though he’s played through a shoulder injury. On Thursday, he momentarily left the game with a chest injury, Shanahan said, but wound up returning after getting checked on in the locker room.
Cornerback Emmanuel Moseley, an undrafted rookie who was elevated from the practice squad before Thursday’s game, left the game in the first half with a shoulder injury.