The San Francisco 49ers host the Chicago Bears in a highly anticipated matchup among two of the league’s best teams. Both teams are coming off of disappointing performances in their prior outing; San Francisco is coming off of a frustrating tie against St. Louis, and Chicago lost a sloppy 13-6 slugfest against Houston.
With Alex Smith out, it becomes especially important that the 49ers gets their ground game on track to make things easier on second-year QB Colin Kaepernick as he makes his first NFL start. Behind Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter, the 49ers lead the NFL averaging 170.2 rushing yards per game on a staggering 5.61 yards per carry, and look to exploit a Bears defense that has had some struggles against the run.
The 49ers have maintained their absurd yards-per-carry average while their longest run of the year is only 37 yards. There are 26 teams that have had a longer run than that, which makes it even more incredible that they have such a high average per rush. The 49ers are not a home-run type rushing attack, but they execute with precision and consistency. The 49ers have racked up 52 runs of 10 or more yards, which also leads the NFL.
Despite holding teams to just 14.8 points per game, the Bears’ defense has been vulnerable against the run. They have surrendered a surprising 4.2 yards per carry and have gotten burned by trap and wham plays this year. Unfortunately for Chicago, those plays happen to be staples of the San Francisco run game. The “Playbook” crew breaks down the 49ers’ use of traps in the run game.
The 49ers are running a wham play here to Frank Gore. Left guard Mike Iupati (77) and left tackle Joe Staley (74) trap the play-side defensive tackle, purposely allowing him to come through untouched. Fullback Bruce Miller is responsible for picking him up. Iupati and Staley work right to the second level to secure the linebackers.
The play-side defensive tackle thinks he has a free rush to make this play, but Miller is on his way to cut him off. The linebackers are frozen, which will allows Iupati and Staley an easier path to secure the second level.
With the defensive tackle picked up by Miller and the second level secured, there is nothing but space in front of Gore. Gore is able to pick up 18 big yards.
In order to keep themselves in this game, the Bears have to establish a running game of their own with backup QB Jason Campbell playing for the injured Jay Cutler. They will have their opportunities, facing a 49ers defense that allowed 159 yards rushing last week against the Rams. If the Bears can stay committed to the run with Matt Forte and keep themselves in manageable passing situations for Campbell, they will have an opportunity to win. However, this 49ers defense will be focused and angry after such a sloppy performance last week, so don’t expect those rushing yards to come easy for the Bears against an incredibly tough and talented 49ers front seven.
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