49ers vs. Cardinals: 4 edges San Francisco now has in Week 9
By Peter Panacy
Edge No. 1: 49ers will be inclined to run the ball more with Elijah Mitchell
The need to start Trey Lance back in Week 5 because starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was out could have prompted head coach Kyle Shanahan to rely more on designed runs, such as QB power, along with an increase in run-pass option plays.
Garoppolo, coming off his best game of the season in Week 8, will be Shanahan’s starter in Week 9, though, meaning Shanahan won’t be tempted to call an excess amount of quarterback run plays.
In Week 5, only 12 49ers rushing plays didn’t involve Lance’s own rushes. And starting running back Elijah Mitchell, who had returned from a shoulder injury suffered earlier in the season, had only nine carries in that game despite averaging 4.8 yards in the contest.
To date, Mitchell is averaging 5.3 yards per carry and is fresh off his third 100-yard rushing game of the season.
In addition to Jeff Wilson potentially being back in the picture, Shanahan won’t be tempted to rely on Lance’s raw skill set, rather there’s a good chance the head coach will “get back to the basics,” focusing on setting up the run once more to help offseason whatever Arizona wants to do on offense, with or without Kyler Murray.
And considering the Cardinals are still allowing an average of 4.9 yards per carry anyway, next to worst in the league entering Week 9, this might be the edge the 49ers need to pull off a win.