As Tevin Coleman hopped on a medical cart with tears in his eyes in the second quarter of the NFC Championship game, Raheem Mostert walked up beside him to talk to his friend and teammate.
“What I said to him is that we’re brothers,” Mostert said after the game with a giant gray shirt draped over his shoulder pads that read “NFC Champions” across its front. “I wanted to let him know that I got your back. I-G-Y-B … He looked at me and said, ‘I know you do.’”
After the short but meaningful exchange, Mostert found the edge around the left side of the formation on the very next play, diving for the pylon to score a nine-yard touchdown— his second of four touchdowns on the night.
For Mostert, a career night of 220 rushing yards on 29 attempts in a 37-20 win over the Green Bay Packers catapulted the 49ers to a Super Bowl bid for the seventh time in franchise history and the first time under head coach Kyle Shanahan.
With a meeting against the Kansas City Chiefs, who knocked out the Tennessee Titans to advance to the Super Bowl earlier in the day, Mostert’s potent skill set has the 49ers’ sights set on another Lombardi Trophy to go along with their other five.
“It’s still surreal,” Mostert said. “I can’t believe that I’m in this position right now and I did the things I did tonight … To be able to win and move on to Miami — my home state — I can’t believe it.”
The 49ers have won games this season in just about every way one could imagine. From high-scoring shootouts in New Orleans to mud-bowl conditions in Washington, San Francisco has been able to emerge victorious.
It’s favorite way to win, however, which was on full display when the 49ers rattled off eight-consecutive wins to open the season was by pounding the ball on the ground.
Against the Minnesota Vikings, Shanahan got back to that winning formula, and on Sunday, the plan was to wash, rinse and repeat.
“We had an idea going in, we were hoping to do something like that,” Shanahan said “But you never expect it to be like that.”
In the first half against the Packers, who San Francisco dismantled, 37-7 in Week 12, the 49ers ran the ball 22 times, yielding 185 yards. 160 of said yards came from Mostert, who finished the 2019 season as San Francisco’s leading rusher.
Mostert’s supreme vision and ability to hit the designed holes in the 49ers zone rushing scheme allowed the five-year veteran to run wild on Green Bay, who had only given up three games of 160 yards rushing or more. Mostert finished with 160 himself by half time — the highest first-half rushing total in a playoff game since 1964.
Before arriving in San Francisco in 2016, Mostert had been cut by six different teams: The Philadelphia Eagles, Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, New York Jets and Chicago Bears.
“I actually still have the cut dates and I look at that before every game,” Mostert said. “Not everybody can deal with that type of stress, pain and agony that I went through.”
Mostert, who broke his arm against the Oakland Raiders in 2018, was able to empathize with some of the pain that Coleman was experiencing after suffering a shoulder injury midway through the second quarter.
After watching Coleman get carted directly to the 49ers locker room for further examination, devastated at the way his night was ending, Mostert took the ball on 2nd-and-5 on the Green Bay nine-yard line.
After reaching the end zone, he popped to his feet and threw a No. 26 to the sky — symbolizing the support for his teammate who trusted that Mostert would continue domination of the Packers defense with his legs.
Riding Mostert — along its suffocation defense that held the Packers to just 93 yards in the first half — San Francisco built a 27-0 lead by halftime. And while Green Bay, desperately trying to keep its season alive, scored three times after the break, the 49ers’ running game proved to be too much to overcome.
Mostert finished the night with 220 yards on 29 carries for the best game of his professional career, obliterating a 146-yard, one touchdown day against the Ravens earlier this season.
It also set the record for the most rushing yards in a conference title game and now sits as the second-best rushing game in playoff history, only behind Eric Dickerson who ran for 248 yards against the Dallas Cowboys in 1986.
“Defenses just underestimate his speed,” 49ers tight end George Kittle said. “His 0-60 is literally two steps and he’s just so special, especially with our offense.”
Thanks primarily to Mostert’s legs, the 49ers are now NFC Champions for the seventh time in franchise history. The win now give Shanahan a 2-0 record as a head coach in the postseason and set up a marquee matchup against the Chiefs for what would be the team’s sixth Super Bowl Championship.
“It’s just so cool,” Shanahan said. “I know how happy our players are and how much they wanted this. I was just so proud of how they played and how hard they fought.”