5 biggest reasons behind SF 49ers ugly start to 2020 season
No. 1: Lack of SF 49ers’ running game
In 2019, the SF 49ers ran for the second-most yards in the NFL, well behind the Ravens, but their 2,305 yards were good for 144.1 per game.
So far in 2020, the team has managed 645 yards, which is seventh in the league for total yards, but their 129 yards per game are just 10th.
The raw numbers don’t show a great deal, however, as they are tainted by several outliers, including an 80-yard run by Raheem Mostert to start off the Week 2 game at the Jets and a 55-yards dash on a 3rd-and-31 play by Jerick McKinnon in that same game.
San Francisco 49ers
If you remove those rushes, the SF 49ers have only run for 510 yards in five games, and that 102 yards per game would be 20th in the NFL, quite a drastic plunge for the group.
This doesn’t even factor in runs by non-running backs, including George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk, and Deebo Samuel (combined 99 yards) and quarterbacks (just 7 yards total). That means it’s been just 539 total yards from the running backs and a mere 404 outside of those outlier rushes.
For an offense like Kyle Shanahan’s that is is predicated on the run as it is, this is worrisome at best and potentially a killer for the SF 49ers offense at worst.
Much like with the quarterbacks, some of this is an issue with the offensive line, which is having as much trouble opening holes for runners as it has keeping a clean pocket for the passers.
Missing Mostert for two games hasn’t helped the case, but neither has the fact that McKinnon, Tevin Coleman, and Jeff Wilson are, at times, a little too slow in recognizing holes, hitting them, and going, something Mostert excels at.
Since this is the basis for much of what Shanahan wants to do with his offense, the failure of the running game to get rolling has been staggering and problematic.
But this issue, like the rest of these problems, is solvable. The ultimate problem may be that the SF 49ers are running out of time to fix these glaring issues.