No. 4: 49ers need to figure out the running game
Something really awful is happening to the 49ers running game the last few weeks, a group which was considered a major strength of this team after the first several games of the season.
Since their win over the Carolina Panthers in Week 8, where they amassed 232 yards on the ground on just 38 carries (6.1 YPC), the Niners run game totals have been pretty abysmal. In Weeks 9 through 11, against Arizona, Seattle and the Cardinals again, the team has managed 101 yards on 31 carries (3.1 YPC), 87 yards on 27 (3.2 YPC) and 34 yards on 19 carries (1.8 YPC).
This is not good, and even though the 49ers have mostly gotten away with it, it’s something they cannot continue to do if they expect to compete for a Super Bowl.
The good news is that the rest of the Niners offense, as noted previously, has been able to take advantage of defenses stacking the box to stop the run. And it still looks like the play action that’s a staple of head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offensive scheme is working effectively, in spite the lack of rushing stats.
Still, there has to be concern if all the 49ers issues rear their ugly heads at once, so the run game finding a steadier footing rather than producing these wildly successful or morbidly awful performances should be key to overall team success.
Sunday — and really both Cardinals games in 2019 — showed the Niners can win without running. The honest truth is they’d rather win with all phases working together.