No. 5: Allow Less than 4.0 Yards per Rush
San Francisco’s efforts against the run last week were eerily reminiscent of the team’s struggles back in 2016, as Cowboys tailback Ezekiel Elliott carved up the Niners defense on the ground to the tune of 147 yards, two touchdowns and 5.7 yards per carry.
Granted, Elliott is elite. But the 49ers’ efforts here were problematic, to say the least.
Despite the woefully inadequate defense, San Francisco still boasts the 12th-best numbers in the NFL against the run — allowing an average of 3.9 yards per carry.
Injuries along the defensive line, namely to EDGE players Arik Armstead (hand) and Aaron Lynch (calf) might negate the defense’s abilities in Week 8, but holding the Eagles under 4.0 yards per carry is a reasonable goal the Niners can look to achieve.
Philadelphia hasn’t been a run-first team this year but still ranks ninth in the league with an average of 4.3 yards per rush. No. 1 tailback LeGarrette Blount is a tough, physical runner picking up an average of 5.0 yards per carry. His in-between-the-tackles style is going to be a challenge for the 49ers’ interior defenders.
One player to keep an eye on here is rookie defensive tackle D.J. Jones, as seen below:
Offsetting the Eagles ground game doesn’t necessarily help the Niners defense, as San Francisco’s secondary isn’t equipped to handle Carson Wentz and the passing game.
But at least the run-stopping effort could look for a nice bounce back from last week.