Run defense is what 49ers do best

October 20, 2011, 6:55 pm
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Quarterback Alex Smith has done everything asked of him while the 49ers' power-running game has done much of the heavy-lifting on offense.Special teams have performed at a high level from the opening game, whether it was Ted Ginn's returns, the legs of David Akers and Andy Lee or the coverage units.But the biggest on-field reason the 49ers made it to the bye week with a 5-1 record might be their run defense. With one of the best front-sevens in the NFL, the 49ers have neutralized each opponent's top running back.

The 49ers rank second in the NFL, surrendering just 74.7 yards on the ground per game. They are the only team in the league that has yet to give up a rushing touchdown.The 49ers shut down Marshawn Lynch (Seahawks), Felix Jones (Cowboys), Cedric Benson (Bengals), LeSean McCoy (Eagles), LeGarrette Blount (Buccaneers) and Jahvid Best (Lions) in the first six games. They took those running backs out of the game -- literally, most of the time.
Against the 49ers, those players combined for 70 rushing attempts for 211 yards (3.01 yards average). Against all other opponents, those same running backs have carried a combined 435 times for 2,028 yards (4.66 average) and 16 touchdowns.Week 1 vs. Seattle: Lynch carried 13 times for 33 yards and did not touch the ball in the fourth quarter.Week 2 vs. Dallas: Jones sustained a shoulder injury on linebacker Patrick Willis' tackle in the first quarter. He rushed nine times for 25 yards.Week 3 at Cincinnati: Benson gained 64 yards on 17 carries and did not touch the ball for the final 10 minutes of the game.Week 4 at Philadelphia: McCoy was shaken up while trying to pick up Ray McDonald on a blitz. He returned and finished with 18 yards on nine carries, but he did not touch the ball for the final 9:30 of the game.Week 5 vs. Tampa Bay: Blount gained 34 yards on 10 rushing attempts and did not return after sustaining a hamstring injury when safety Dashon Goldson upended him with a third-quarter tackle.
Week 6 at Detroit: Best gained 37 yards on 12 rushing attempts and did not play in the final 10 minutes of the game after sustaining a concussion.