2 things 49ers must correct before halfway point of 2023 season

Dallas Cowboys v San Francisco 49ers
Dallas Cowboys v San Francisco 49ers / Michael Zagaris/GettyImages

The 49ers are heading into Week 6 with a perfect record. However, it hasn't been as flawless as their record would indicate.

It's hard complaining about a 5-0 San Francisco 49ers team this deep into the season, but head coach Kyle Shanahan and Co. can still strive to improve a few things as they creep toward the halfway point of the season.

Specifically, these two issues that could become even bigger problems if they aren't addressed.

49ers must have better rotation at running back

As a faithful observer of 49ers football, the one glaring area that seems to be a serious cause for concern is rotation at the running back position.

Through the season's first quarter, it's pretty clear San Francisco's running back, Christian McCaffrey, will be the team's undisputed bell cow in 2023. McCaffrey is usually in the game about 85 percent of the time, leaving very little room for other running backs to make an impact consistently.

So far after five weeks of action, McCaffrey has 99 rush attempts, while the next closest rusher has 16. Factor in his contributions out of the backfield as a receiver or blocker, and it's easy to see why the organization doesn't want him off the field for too long.

Don't get me wrong, I love watching McCaffrey slice and dice his way through defenses just as much as any sports enthusiast, but looking at the bigger picture which includes another deep playoff run, it'll be wise for Shanahan to lighten his load in time for the stretch run.

49ers defense showing cracks vs. mobile quarterbacks

The Niners have had a top-10 defense four out of the last six years. This season has begun somewhat strong for them with plenty of room for improvement, mainly in the passing game.

Still possessing a spot in the top 10, San Francisco has to continue limiting its biggest threat: mobile quarterbacks.

The 49ers haven't given up a ton of big plays this year to opposing signal-callers, rather it's the timely scrambles and off-schedule plays this defense struggles to contain.

Related story: Why Niners will remain undefeated entering Week 9 bye

One of the greatest attributes this defense possesses is the "bend but don't break" mentality. While the Niners are giving up a substantial amount of passing yards, the run defense completely neutralizes any aerial attack. And while the defensive front will surely be put to the test at some point this season, it must be ready to meet any and all challenges coming its way.

The Arizona Cardinals' Joshua Dobbs is the only quarterback to rush for more than 40 yards against this defense. Yet it's been an Achilles heel for San Francisco over the past couple of years, but in 2023, the team is making a conscious effort to eliminate another flaw.

Whether or not the 49ers have finally figured out their defensive conundrum is something we'll have to wait and see as the season progresses.

In the meantime, the Niners will look to keep things rolling as they head to Cleveland for a Sunday showdown with the Browns.

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