No. 1: Can Elijah Mitchell have another statement game?
One of the bigger question marks from San Francisco’s Week 5 loss to Arizona was the fact Kyle Shanahan relied so little on his crop of running backs. True, the 49ers dialed up a total of 28 rush plays during that game, but the overwhelming majority of them were Trey Lance runs.
Only 12 involved running backs carrying the ball.
Of those 12, starting rookie running back Elijah Mitchell saw a mere nine carries despite averaging nearly 6 yards per rush attempt during the game. To date, Mitchell has solidified his role as the Niners’ top ball-carrier on the ground, and he has already tallied three 100-plus-yard efforts on the season, tying a franchise record for a first-year player.
Mitchell is averaging 5.3 yards per attempt, too, which figures to be a stat line Shanahan and Co. fully hope to exploit in Week 9.
Especially considering the Cardinals are allowing an average of 4.9 yards per rush attempt this season, next to worst in the league through eight weeks.
If Mitchell winds up replicating the kind of success he’s already had, particularly in Weeks 1 and 8, there’s an awfully good chance San Francisco pulls off a much-needed victory this weekend.