No. 5: 49ers Hold Running Back Tarik Cohen to Under 100 Total Yards
Jordan Howard might be the Bears’ traditional running back. But No. 2 tailback Tarik Cohen is, by far, the more electric player on Chicago’s offense. He leads the Bears with 1,115 all-purpose yards, and the competition behind him isn’t even close. And while Howard’s 773 rush yards is tops on the ground, Cohen’s abilities as a pass-catching runner makes him all the more explosive.
San Francisco 49ers
If the 49ers want to pick who they stop on the ground, it sure seems like Cohen is the bigger threat.
Here’s why: Seattle had plenty of success last week getting its running back, Chris Carson, off the edge and to the outside. Niners interior defenders, namely Solomon Thomas and Arik Armstead, have been particularly effective against the inside run. Yet outside runs were far more successful for the Seahawks, who ended up getting 168 total yards on the ground.
Cohen is the outside runner, while Howard is the traditional inside-the-tackles tailback. Why would Bears head coach Matt Nagy elect to run at San Francisco’s defensive strength?
No, he’ll go with Cohen to the outside. And that’s how the 49ers defense will have to scheme, cheating safeties and linebackers to set the edge and prevent substantial gains beyond the line of scrimmage.
It could work. After all, Cohen was limited to just 89 and 52 all-purpose yards in Weeks 14 and 15, respectively. And it’s beneficial to San Francisco that Football Outsiders ranks Chicago’s offensive line next to last in run blocking.
If the 49ers take that same approach, holding Cohen to minus-100 offensive yards isn’t out of the question.