49ers: Spreading out the offense for the run
The San Francisco 49ers offense has a stiff test in front of a national audience Sunday night, facing a Denver Broncos’ run defense which currently ranks fourth in the league allowing only 76.8 yards per game.
Making things more difficult, the 49ers will be without their road-grading guard Mike Iupati, who has already been declared out of Sunday’s contest with a concussion. Iupati’s +10.9 run blocking grade is tops among left guards so far this season.
Denver’s run defense has been exceptionally strong while in their 4-3 base package, where they are holding opposing ball carriers to a pedestrian 2.0 yards per carry. As you might imagine, when the Broncos line up in nickel or dime that number goes up, but in Denver’s case the average more than doubles to 4.1 yards per attempt.
The 49ers have opened up their offense this season, after using 3+ WR personnel only 22.0% of the time in 2013, that number has jumped to 46.3% so far this year. If they can get the Broncos with extra defensive backs on the field, they could very well look to run. San Francisco has shown their willingness to run out of 11 personnel this season, including in the fourth quarter of their season-opening victory over the Cowboys. The 49ers ran out a portion of the clock with a six-play drive which consisted entirely of runs out of 11 personnel for 40 yards.