San Francisco 49ers vs New York Jets: Analyzing the Run Game
The week 14 game between the 1-11 San Francisco 49ers and the 3-9 New York Jets will be determined by the level of success the run game of the 49ers will have against the teeth of the Jets, which is their highly ranked rush defense. On the opposite end the 32nd ranked run defense of the 49ers will have to contend with Matt Forte and a running game of the Jets that, due to recent events, will have to take on more of a significant role.
The 49ers currently have the 4th ranked rushing offense in the NFL, averaging over 127 yards per game; while the Jets have the 4th ranked rushing defense in the NFL, only allowing 90 yards per game. On the opposite end, the Jets have the 16th ranked rushing offense, accumulating 105 yards on the ground per game; the 49ers as many we'll know have the worst rushing defense in the NFL, allowing 169 yards per contest.
The centerpiece of the 49ers offense is running back Carlos Hyde, who in just 10 games played has already surpassed his career highs in carries, yards, and TDs and is on route to the 1,000 yard mark for the first time in his young career. The 49ers rushing offense is also depends on the legs of quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who in just 6 games played is 2nd behind Tyrod Taylor in rushing yards by a QB with almost 400 yards.
While the 49ers rushing attack is by far the strength of their offense, they will have an incredibly tough matchup this weekend in the New York Jets. The Jets are currently 4th in terms of rushing yards per game allowed and the 2nd ranked rushing defense according to Football Outsiders’ analytical metrics. The strength of their defense is in their defensive line, which has 3 potential pro bowl players in Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson and Leonard Williams. They will spend the day battling the 30th ranked run blocking offensive line, a task that becomes easier with the news that Joe Staley is doubtful for Sunday’s game.
While the statistics indicate that the Jets rushing game is a middle of the road aspect of their offense, Matt Forte is having a really good year: he's on track for another 1,000 yard season. Currently, the Jets are ranked 18th in the NFL with 24.7 rushing attempts per game, a number that should increase with 2nd year QB Bryce Petty starting for the rest of the season. With such an inexperienced signal caller at the helm, the Jets are likely to lean on their veteran running back as they face the league’s worst rush defense. The only issue that might hinder their efforts is the loss of 7 time Pro Bowler center Nick Mangold, who was placed on injured reserve due to a severe ankle injury. Due in large part to Mangold’s efforts the Jets have the 18th ranked run blocking offensive line.
On the other end, there is the worst rushing defense in the entire NFL, allowing close to a 170 yards on the ground per game. The 49ers defense is a unit that has been plagued by injuries to key players, inexperienced and inferior replacements, poor execution, and poor scheme. While the last month has seen an improvement in play, due largely to a schematic change in their run fits and the installation of Glenn Dorsey as the team’s starting nose tackle they are still a terrible run defense.
On Sunday the 49ers offense will have a difficult time finding consistent success on the ground against the top tier rush defense of the Jets. The odds are more likely that they have to employ a pass heavy game plan against the Jets, who have the worst passing offense in the NFL if they have any chance to end their 11 game losing streak. On the other end the 49ers defense will have to prove that they can do something that they have any done 3 times all season, stop the opposing team’s run game if not their losing streak will continue.