Running the ball was a key 49ers strength in Week 1 of the preseason, as the Niners finished their game in Kansas City with 188 rushing yards on 36 attempts.
This wasn’t the case versus the Broncos.
San Francisco finished the night with a mere 37 yards on 19 carries — an average of just 1.9 yards per attempt.
San Francisco 49ers
The Run Defense
It’s a bit unfair to label the Niners’ run defense as bad, but it’s impossible to overlook the 146 yards allowed to Denver’s ground game.
Most of these big gains came in the second half and against the majority of San Francisco’s backups and third stringers. And it wasn’t as if the 49ers offense gave the defense a good enough chance to rest.
Still, the Broncos were able to pull of long runs down the stretch, including a 20-yard touchdown run by Denver running back Juwaun Thompson in the fourth quarter.
It’s something to watch as the preseason moves along, but defensive coordinator Robert Saleh has some work to do.
While the 49ers offensive line was pretty good at pass protection, this group was completely opposite in support of the run.
As noted earlier, San Francisco’s runners couldn’t get much of anything going en route to a mere 37 yards on 19 carries.
Most of this doesn’t fall on the tailbacks, though, as there were few lanes across the O-line to exploit.
Remember, this was a problem for the 49ers last year. Football Outsiders ranked the Niners O-line dead last in run support in 2016, and there doesn’t appear to be too much an improvement heading into this season.