49ers vs. Cowboys: 5 bold predictions for Wild Card round of NFL playoffs
By Peter Panacy
No. 3: 49ers will run the ball 40 times during the game
One of the reasons why the Niners so dominantly defeated the Rams way back in Week 10 was because of their ability to maintain possession and keep a potent Los Angeles offense off the field.
Doing so might be even more crucial versus Dallas.
Helping negate a dangerous Cowboys passing attack on the field can be done by dominating the time-of-possession battle, and there’s no better way to do that than by a heavy dose of the running game.
Back in Week 10, as San Francisco cruised to a 31-10 victory over LA, head coach Kyle Shanahan called for a whopping 44 rushing attempts, which led to nearly double the time of possession over what was then viewed as one of the most formidable offenses in the league.
Shanahan shouldn’t stray from this approach versus Dallas either, especially in light of the Cowboys allowing an average of 4.5 yards per run during the regular season, 23rd in the league, while Football Outsiders’ defensive DVOA metric has Dallas at 16th with a minus-7.1 percent mark.
For what it’s worth, the 49ers’ defensive DVOA against the run is minus-24.8, second best.
One might expect running back Elijah Mitchell, wide receiver Deebo Samuel and Co. to run rampant and often on Sunday.