No. 5: Shoring Up the Run Defense
The Niners defense in 2019 has been elite, with little question. Entering Week 10, San Francisco ranks second in points allowed (102) and has given up the fewest yards in the league (1,928).
Yet the 49ers have been vulnerable defending against the run this season.
In Week 6 against the Los Angeles Rams, L.A. exclusively used the ground game to get on the board first, although the Niners roared back to a one-sided 20-7 victory. The following week, the Washington Redskins tried the same approach, only to see their opening drive culminate in a missed field goal. In Week 8, San Francisco’s defense held early, yet eventually surrendered 130 rush yards en route to a 51-13 win.
One would expect Seattle to come out early with a focus on the rushing game.
In total, the 49ers are allowing an average of 4.7 yards per carry, which ranks 22nd best in the league entering Week 10. The Seahawks, meanwhile, are averaging 4.3 yards per rush attempt — 13th best.
While Russell Wilson has been dominant, one has to figure head coach Pete Carroll will go with a run-first approach, especially considering the Niners losing linebacker Kwon Alexander, one of the team’s best run stoppers, to a season-ending pectoral injury.