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49ers will face difficulty running the ball vs. Rams in Week 6

The San Francisco 49ers have enjoyed a stout rushing attack in 2019, although their Week 6 contest against the Los Angeles Rams will prove to be more difficult than any before.

The San Francisco 49ers own the No. 2 overall scoring offense heading into their Week 6 contest on the road against the Los Angeles Rams, and a prime reason has been the success of the running game.

Over four games, the Niners are averaging 200 rush yards per contest, far and away the tops in the league in this particular category. Head coach Kyle Shanahan has received dynamic rushing results from running backs Matt Breida, Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman and even Jeff Wilson.

One could make the argument the 49ers haven’t faced a lot of good run defenses this season, but there’s not a lot of truth to that, as the averages below point out:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 3.1 yards allowed per rush (first)Cincinnati Bengals: 5.0 yards allowed per rush (27th)Pittsburgh Steelers: 3.9 yards allowed per rush (ninth)Cleveland Browns: 5.2 yards allowed per rush (29th)

Interestingly enough, San Francisco’s two contests against good run-stopping teams — the Buccaneers and Steelers — produced total ground numbers of 98 and 168 yards in Weeks 1 and 3, respectively.

The Rams, meanwhile, are allowing an average of 3.8 rush yards per carry, which is good for seventh in the league.

Looking at the correlation between all the numbers, one would figure the 49ers would have some difficulty moving the ball on the ground in Los Angeles this Sunday. Perhaps somewhere in the region of 100 total yards, or so.

But that assessment is based off the Niners having fullback Kyle Juszczyk, one of the best run blockers in the game, available for the contest.

Juszczyk isn’t available, though, out four to six weeks with a knee sprain.

The fullback fills more than a handful of roles in Shanahan’s offense, which extend beyond just being a lead blocker. But this role is of extreme importance, and the fix isn’t as simple as just inserting another player, like Wilson, into Juszczyk’s stead for the time being.

Instead, Shanahan will likely have to call for more three-wide receiver sets, eliminating the fullback’s spot on the field, and letting a tandem of Breida and Coleman attempt runs without the services of a true lead blocker.

Against a sub-par rushing defense, this might not be too difficult. Yet against a solid run defense, such as that of the Rams, the results could paint a different picture.

Shanahan’s innovative play calling can make up for the shortage at fullback, and both Breida and Coleman’s already-established prowess within the system isn’t something Los Angeles can overlook.

Still, one shouldn’t automatically assume San Francisco will have an easy time moving the ball on the ground in Week 6.