After starting out the 2011 NFL season without allowing a single rushing touchdown through their first 14 games, the San Francisco 49ers now look vulnerable against the run heading into the playoffs, threatening their title shot.
In the last two games, the 49ers have allowed three rushing touchdowns. On top of that, the 49ers defense has also allowed Marshawn Lynch and Stephen Jackson to run rampant.
Take a look at the stats for the last two games:
- Week 16 vs. Seattle Seahawks: Lynch ran for 107 yards on 21 carries (5.1 yards per carry) and one touchdown.
- Week 17 vs. St. Louis Rams: Jackson ran for 76 yards on 16 carries (4.75 yards per carry). Also, Kellen Clements ran for a touchdown and Cadillac Williams added another touchdown in the fourth quarter.
- The two opponents combined to rush for 235 yards and three touchdowns.
This isn't the kind of performance you'd like to see from your defense just as you're heading into the playoffs.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee tweeted this right after the game:
49ers enter locker room like a team that lost the game not one that wrapped up the No. 2 seed in the playoffs...
I have to wonder if the 49ers defensive players have lost some of their mojo, having been pushed around for the last couple of weeks.
The one thing that gives me hope going forward is that the 49ers won't be facing another team with comparable running ability any time soon. The teams that they will face in the playoffs won't be featuring a steady diet of power runners.
Instead, those teams will just throw it a lot, but that's a topic for another post.
This trend could spell trouble for the 49ers title hopes, and they will need to get things tightened up before their next game, two weeks from now.