Reporting Grant Paulsen
Beating the San Francisco 49ers isn’t easy. That’s why six of their seven opponents have failed. But that doesn’t mean teams don’t know how to beat San Francisco.
The way to stop them is easy. You have to stop the run. If you can stop the run you will beat the 49ers. It’s that simple. The problem is actually getting Frank Gore and the rest of the team’s ball-carriers to the ground.
Shutting down San Francisco’s running game is a lot like losing weight. Everybody can tell you how to do it and everybody knows what must be done. But there’s a difference between knowing that you have to eat less fast food or that you have to exercise more and actually putting in the work to drop the pounds.
The 49ers run for an average of 137.6 yards per game, the sixth highest game average in all of football. But only four teams actually run the ball more than San Francisco does (30.6 times per game). They’re game plan doesn’t change and they stick to what they do well. They’re going to try to pound the ball on the Redskins on Sunday. If the Redskins shut the run down they will win. If Washington can’t stop the run they’ll lose.
“They’re very good at what they do,” defensive end Stephen Bowen said. “They have an excellent running back that really helps their scheme. Frank Gore is perfect for it. They do what they do and they do it well.”
But Bowen thinks the Redskins have a good enough game plan to slow Gore down.
“We’ve got guys over here that are good as well,” the first-year Redskin said. “I think if we’re assignment-sound, we’ll get that run stopped. If everybody’s in their gap, we’ll get that run stopped.”
In their last four games the 49ers have rushed 39 times for 174 yards, 29 times for 203 yards, 36 times for 213 yards and 25 times for 164 yards. The teams they played in those four games (the Browns, Lions, Bucs and Eagles) knew what was coming and still couldn’t get stops. They knew how to lose weight but they were still getting a 2 am burger at the 24-hour drive-thru.
If you can stuff Frank Gore, then quarterback Alex Smith has to beat you and he can’t beat the Washington Generals. He throws for an average of 171 yards per-game (31st best in football).
So in summary, one more time: if you stop the run, you stop the 49ers.