No. 1: RB Matt Breida
Running back Matt Breida shredded the Bengals defense last week. He ran for 121 yards on just 12 attempts. Expect Breida to see more carries in this game, as the Niners will want to take the pressure off of Garoppolo and Skule in the latter’s first start.
Shanahan’s evolved West Coast offense centers around being able to run the ball. Breida has been excellent in this role. With Breida ripping off over 10 yards per carry, the defense is forced to focus on stopping the run. As soon as the defense over-commits to putting defenders in the box, Shanahan calls play-action pass plays with receivers running free deep.
Breida should be able to continue his success against the Steelers. Pittsburgh allowed 122 rushing yards to Seattle’s running backs last week.
The 49ers proved that their offense is relentless when the running game gets going. If Breida can continue the success he found in Cincinnati, then the Steelers defense could be in for a long day.