Super Bowl Tips: The Running Backs

Leigh Copson:

Raheem Mostert and Damien Williams may not be ‘big name’ running backs in the National Football League, but both men have certainly made their presence known over the past few weeks. Can they now make a major impact on Super Bowl LIV?

READ MORE: Get our free Super Bowl tips for San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs.

Mostert entered the league in 2015 and by the time he landed in San Francisco towards the end of the 2016 season he had already racked up four clubs. His start to life in the ‘Golden State’ was hardly spectacular either – he would end the 2017 and 2018 seasons on injured reserve – but a breakout performance against Green Bay in 2018 suggested there was more to come from Mostert and as a result he was retained by San Francisco for 2019.

The 27-year-old shone early with a couple of strong showings in the first few weeks of the season, but the 49ers quickly went away from him due to the ‘three-headed monster’ they have at running back and it was not until Week 13 when he finally got back into double figures for carries. He took his chance in spectacular fashion though, rushing for 146 yards and a score, and that performance proved to be the start of fine run of form that hit new levels with his 220-yard, four touchdown showing against the Packers in the NFC Championship Game.

Kansas City counterpart Williams may not have hit the same dizzying heights as Mostert on Championship Sunday, but he too played a leading role for his team. A dual threat out of the backfield, the Chiefs running back racked up 89 all-purpose yards and a touchdown as his team put Tennessee to the sword and that performance was a reflection of his season so far. There were no startling statistics, just good, solid, reliable play that resulted in him making some key plays as his team came from behind to win for the second weekend running.

Williams has not had 20 carries in a game this season and with only two 100-yard-plus games he is nowhere near the league leaders in rushing, but he remains a popular passing target for Patrick Mahomes out of the backfield and that makes him somebody that the 49ers must keep a close eye on at all time. He has repaid his quarterback with seven touchdowns in his last four games – a statistic that does stand out – and he will have plenty of opportunities to help his team pull off the biggest win of them all in Super Bowl LIV.

So while Mostert and Williams will never be discussed in the same breathe as the likes Ezekiel Elliott, Derrick Henry and Christian McCaffrey, they both are important cogs in their respective offenses. They may not steal the show and the headlines here, but both men will play their part as the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs battle to lift the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Performance Predictions

Raheem Mostert – It would be easy to get carried away with Mostert’s performance in the NFC Championship Game, but it should not overshadow the fact that he has had over 100 yards rushing on just two occasions this season and that makes me wary of backing him to pass that mark here. However, he has now passed the 50-yard mark in each of his last seven games and that fine display against Green Bay should result in him getting more touches than he has previously, so we should see Mostert at least go past 65.5 yards rushing.

Damien Williams – Like Mostert, Williams has had only two games this season in which he has passed the 100-yard mark for rushing. However, the Kansas City running back poses a threat in both the running and the passing games so there are plenty of opportunities for him to rack up the yards. Williams really kicked into gear during the second half of the regular season and he has now had over 80.5 all-purpose yards in five of his last seven games. He could make it six in eight here as Mahomes tries to get the ball out his hands quickly to negate the 49ers’ ferocious pass rush.

More Position Head-To-Heads

The Quarterbacks: Jimmy Garoppolo vs. Patrick Mahomes

The Running Backs: Raheem Mostert vs. Damien Williams

The Wide Receivers: Tyreek Hill vs. Deebo Samuel

The Tight Ends: George Kittle vs. Travis Kelce

The Defenses: San Francisco vs. Kansas City