No. 4: Run Blocking Is Officially a Problem
Last season, the 49ers finished dead last in run support, according to Football Outsiders. And things may not be that different this year.
San Francisco 49ers
Personnel-wise, the only notable difference heading into 2017 is second-year guard Joshua Garnett (knee) won’t be available for the foreseeable future, leaving it up to free-agent pickup Brandon Fusco to hold the line.
The scheme has changed from an inside- to outside-zone blocking style, which only means blockers will try to open up lanes to the outside by pushing the defenders towards the middle of the field.
So far through the preseason, it’s been anything but consistent.
Yes, the Niners managed 91 yards in Minnesota. But these came on 26 carries, an average of just 3.5 yards per attempt. Presumed No. 1 running back, Carlos Hyde, averaged just 2.7 yards per carry. Rookie runner Joe Williams didn’t fare any better, posting a 2.3 YPC mark.
The ground game is an essential part of head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense, especially considering how much play action is used. If San Francisco can’t establish the run, play action isn’t anywhere near as effective.
With no likely solution in sight, this could be a season-long issue for the Niners.