49ers will maul Chargers on the ground in Week 10
By Peter Panacy
The 49ers enjoy a disproportionate advantage over the Chargers in Week 10, as the Bolts have no means to effectively stop a rushing attack.
In an ideal setting, San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan would have two-thirds of his offensive plays be a run play, and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo would drop back to pass no more than 20 times in a game.
Of course, things don’t always pan out this way, and the Niners’ inconsistent offense over the first half of 2022 hasn’t afforded a large number of opportunities for Shanahan’s run-first offense to take control.
Throw all of that out the window, though, as San Francisco gears up for the second half of the season in the wake of its bye, hosting the 5-3 Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday Night Football in Week 10.
A Chargers team that can’t stop the run if a playoff berth depended on it.
Chargers have been awful defending the run in 2022
Let’s start off with the Bolts, whose defense has surrendered the ninth-most points (206) over just eight games played to date. Head coach Brandon Staley was supposed to be the defensive mastermind capable of fixing all this, especially within the offensive-charged AFC West.
But the reality is that hasn’t happened. At all.
Narrowing Los Angeles’ defensive troubles down a bit and focusing just against the run, Staley’s defense has given up the seventh-most rushing yards (1,164) in the league and is dead worst in allowing an average of 5.7 yards per carry.
Taking into account recent splits, LA hasn’t exactly had much luck either in preventing teams from cresting at least 100 yards rushing by a wide margin:
To quote FanSided NFL insider Matt Verderame in his Week 10 NFL power rankings, “The Niners might rush for 450 yards.”
49ers deploying Christian McCaffrey is the perfect poison vs. Chargers
Los Angeles has two culprits who have struggled in the missed-tackle department, defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day and linebacker Drue Tranquil, who have four and eight missed tackles this season, respectively.
Enter All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey, San Francisco’s newest offensive weapon acquired just before this year’s NFL trade deadline.
According to Pro Football Focus, McCaffrey has already forced 20 missed tackles on rushes this season, and it’s likely that number will increase when he faces off against the Chargers on Sunday.
McCaffrey’s dual-threat capabilities also work in the 49ers’ favor, too, as the Bolts rank next to last in defending against running backs in the passing game, according to Football Outsiders‘ DVOA metric.
Considering how the Niners utilized McCaffrey as both a serious rushing threat and a legitimate pass-catching option in their Week 8 victory over the Los Angeles Rams, doing much of the same against the Chargers figures to generate even more likable results for Shanahan and Co.
Los Angeles doesn’t have the means to stop McCaffrey, and San Francisco has every reason to give him as many touches as possible.
The 49ers should dominate this game on the ground, easily.
Both teams square off on Sunday, Nov. 13 at 8:20 p.m. ET from Levi’s Stadium.