No. 4: Running Back Matt Breida vs. Inside Linebacker Anthony Hitchens
Yes, his 184 rushing yards on the season is inflated by his monster performance against a weak Detroit run defense, but Breida is a true talent. When I attended one of the 49ers’ training camp practices over the summer, I was expecting head coach Kyle Shanahan to employ a committee between McKinnon and Breida simply because of how well the latter was showing at practice.
He was making the most plays on the field by far, and looked like the best running back on the team.
However, Breida will face a tough matchup this week against linebacker Anthony Hitchens, who is second in the league in tackles. Hitchens was very productive during his time in Dallas, and is already shaping up to be a great 2018 free agent signing for the Chiefs.
Lions head coach Matt Patricia took away the passing game from Jimmy Garoppolo by dropping many people in coverage. If the Chiefs do that, the 49ers have to establish a run game.
And that all starts with Breida and how he matches up against Hitchens.