One reason the San Francisco 49ers (2-2) came out with a victory against the then undefeated Philadelphia Eagles (3-1) was due to their smash-mouth run game. A game-plan that seemed to vanish against the Arizona Cardinals (3-0) one week earlier, the 49ers offense got back to basics as RB Frank Gore rushed for 119 yards on 24 carries. A recipe for success as the 49ers are a perfect 12-0 when the Inconvenient Truth hits the century mark, the 49ers will need to pound the rock with Gore as he faces a very suspect Kansas City Chiefs (2-2) rush defense.
— Ryan Sakamoto (@SakamotoRyan) September 29, 2014
Despite the Chiefs garnering a very modest No. 19 ranked rush defense while yet to allow a rushing touchdown this season, I believe that Gore will have a solid game. When looking at the numbers the Chiefs have given up a whopping 5.7 yards per carry to starting running backs this season evident by 47 carries for 267 rushing yards. And while that’s just one stat, the fact that Gore seems to have found his mid-season stride makes this a very favorable matchup.
The engine that makes that 3-4 defense go, Poe continues to be the clog in the middle. A workout warrior as Poe “wowed” NFL scouts at the 2012 NFL scouting combine, he is now translating that skill-set onto the football field. Through four games this season, Poe has 12 tackles and 1.5 sacks despite being a primary space-eater. A tough task for C Daniel Kilgore, G Mike Iupati and G Alex Boone, those three will need to consistently double-team Poe as they create running lanes for their running game. Iupati and Boone have not fared well this season as both have uncharacteristically struggled. Iupati who doesn’t seem to look fully recovered from his broken fibula last season, while Boone looks to be in training camp form due to his lengthy holdout will need to bring their A-game on Sunday. In fact when looking at the numbers Boone has the second-worst run blocking grade on the team according to Pro Football Focus coming at a -2.5, only T Jonathan Martin fares worse with a -3.3.
Speaking of Martin, if T Anthony Davis is unable to go that will be a huge blow for the 49ers offense. Martin continues to struggle and looks nothing more than a viable backup. A player that is unable to generate a push or set the edge, Martin continues to look like a lost puppy out on the field. Not to mention, his abundance of penalties helps kill drives, Martin will need to improve in that area as he will often be matched up against DE Jaye Howard.
If the 49ers can continue to stick to the run that should bode well for them, as Gore should have some opportunities for big plays. And while the Chiefs defensive line is stout, it’s their linebackers that will need to be contained. Led by Pro Bowl OLB Justin Houston and OLB Tamba Hali, both of those players will likely set the edge as they flush Gore back inside. Two players that have the speed, vision, and awareness to track down ball carriers early, the 49ers offensive line must do a better job as they hit the second-level.
With the 49ers prepared to face a tough AFC West foe in the Kansas City Chiefs, they will need to establish the run as Gore and RB Carlos Hyde should have big days. A collective team effort look for the offensive line to impose their will down in the trenches as Gore racks up a stat line similar to 17 carries for 86 yards and one touchdown while Hyde finishes up with around seven carries for 39 yards.