No. 3: An Ineffective 49ers Running Game
Sure, the Cardinals entered Week 8 with the league’s second worst scoring offense. But anytime a defense holds an NFL opponent to 18 points, one has to look elsewhere for the problems.
And a big one can be found in the 49ers running game.
Granted, running back Matt Breida was hobbled by an ankle injury. But Arizona did a good job trying to take away his efforts up front, stacking the box and forcing quarterback C.J. Beathard to pass — something he didn’t do effectively well the last time these two teams met back in Week 5.
Breida rushed 16 times for only 42 yards — an average of 2.6 yards per carry, which will certainly cut back his one-time league-leading 6.5 yards-per-carry average.
San Francisco didn’t get a lot of help from its other ball carriers either. Veteran tailback Alfred Morris managed 28 yards on six carries. But 26 of those came on one rush, meaning the other five averaged 0.4 yards per attempt.
And where was fellow runner Raheem Mostert? He was given the ball just twice to the tune of 18 yards. Perhaps his speed could have been an X-factor to the outside with all those Cardinals defenders up in the box.
Overall, the 49ers managed 107 yards on the ground. But considering it was against an Arizona team allowing more rush yards than anyone else before Week 8, one has to think the lack of a ground attack was a major San Francisco failure.