NFL Wire News

Ground game key to 49ers’ success


The Sports Xchange

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The 49ers are 1-0 this season when their running game has dominated an opponent.

They’re 0-1 when their passing game has had the greater success.

So it was not surprising then that, when divulging a small part of the 49ers’ game plan against the Arizona Cardinals this week, quarterback Colin Kaepernick took the ball out of his own hands.

“When we’re in a neutral game or we’re up, we have a very good run game,” he insisted. “So we lean on that.”

The question is: How long can the 49ers keep Sunday’s game “neutral” by running the ball against the league’s 10th-ranked rushing defense, when attempts to do so last week against the 12th-ranked unit produced a 29-3 halftime deficit?

Statistically through two games, the Cardinals are very similar to the 49ers’ previous opponent, the Pittsburgh Steelers.

They are separated by just one yard allowed in passing (Arizona 580, Pittsburgh 579) and 28 in rushing (Arizona 163, Pittsburgh 191).

That’s not good news for the 49ers, whose win in Week 1 came against the Vikings defense that was stronger against the pass (15th in the league) than the run (25th).

“It’s all about what the defense will give us and what the situation of the game is (that) will base how we play,” Kaepernick said of the offensive approach.

It remains to be seen if the 49ers’ passing success in last week’s 43-18 loss to the Steelers was a true indication of an improved aerial attack, or whether in fact it was all a result of “the situation of the game,” which was a blowout through the second half, when Kaepernick rolled up a majority of his impressive numbers.

All we know for now is that coach Jim Tomsula thought Kaepernick’s 335-yard game looked good on film, if not on the scoreboard.

“It’s going well,” Tomsula said of Kaepernick’s season. “We had 11 (players targeted) and 10 guys catch a ball (in the Pittsburgh game). He’s doing a nice job in that sense.”

NOTES: RB Carlos Hyde was a full participant at practice Wednesday and is expected to start Sunday

at Arizona. Hyde took a blow to the head and later suffered a strained quad in the loss at

Pittsburgh. … RB Reggie Bush said Wednesday he’s planning on returning from a one-game absence to play Sunday at Arizona. Bush suffered a strained calf in the season opener against Minnesota. He did

not practice Wednesday. … WR/KR Bruce Ellington was a limited participant at practice Wednesday in hopes of returning from a sprained ankle that kept him out of Sunday’s loss at Pittsburgh. He likely will play Sunday at Arizona. … TE Vance McDonald was limited in practice Wednesday because of a bruised knee, but is expected to play Sunday at Arizona. McDonald has yet to be a factor in the 49ers’ passing game with just one catch for five yards in two games.

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