No. 1: 49ers get away from the run game again with just 39 yards
Even though the 49ers fell behind early and was facing a 17-point deficit in the first half, the game was far from over. And it would have been a great strategy for Kyle Shanahan to slow the game down before halftime by running the ball often with one of his best-performing rookies, running back Elijah Mitchell.
Granted, Mitchell entered the game banged up and was questionable. But he still managed to average 4.5 yards per carry.
This should have been a key factor against a Cardinals defense that was allowing an average of 4.9 yards per carry against entering Week 9, next to worst in the NFL up to this point. And if it was a point of emphasis, it would have also forced Arizona to rely more on Colt McCoy’s arm instead of James Conner running the ball.
Or, at the very least, it would have edged the time-of-possession battle back into the Niners’ favor.
Instead, Mitchell got just eight carries for 36 yards, while Jimmy Garoppolo had 3 yards rushing. Brandon Aiyuk and fellow running back JaMycal Hasty both cancelled each other out, one with a negative run and the other a mere 2-yard gain.
Even early in the second half, the deficit wasn’t large enough to call for pass-only drives. Yet Shanahan got away from his primary modus operandi again.
San Francisco hurt because of it.