No. 1: SF 49ers need to get their rushing attack going again
Unfortunately, it’s not quite as simple as merely saying San Francisco must run the ball better.
While true, and the fact the SF 49ers have generated a net total of 156 rush yards over the last three games, one has to account for two key factors. First, opponents are stacking the box against the run and daring Nick Mullens to throw. He hasn’t responded adequately enough. Second, a banged-up running back corps has left Kyle Shanahan’s ground attack awfully impotent.
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Despite this, the Niners ground attack has only dropped to the No. 10 spot on Football Outsiders‘ most-efficient rushing offenses ahead of Week 11. True, much of the numbers are skewed by some of San Francisco’s more prolific rushing games from earlier in the season. But at least the ranking shows Shanahan’s offense is still capable of being effective on the ground when operating at full strength.
It hasn’t been that way as of late, though.
Fortunately, Shanahan and Co. can expect some much-needed reinforcements. Running backs Tevin Coleman (knee), Raheem Mostert (knee) and Jeff Wilson Jr., (ankle) are all expected back soon, and they’ll likely spell the Niners’ starter from the past three weeks, Jerick McKinnon, who has arguably been overused because of the shortages and has lost a step as a result.
Considering how important the ground game is for San Francisco, getting healthy after the bye week could signal a massive turnaround for the team’s hopeful-but-dwindling playoff chances.