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Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The secret behind the 49ers’ success in the running game

Rohan Chakravarthi
Jan 19, 2023 at 6:40 PM--

The San Francisco 49ers are one of the more prolific rushing attacks in the NFL, averaging 138.3 yards per game on the ground, including 4.7 yards per carry, both of which rank inside the Top 10 in the league.

So, what's the secret behind their success on the ground? Is it the running backs? The scheme? Or the blocking?

The answer is all three, but specifically, the blocking, which has created significant holes for running backs to operate with in space.

The 49ers had two significant runs on Saturday when facing the Seattle Seahawks, as Christian McCaffrey broke a 66-yard rush on his first carry, while Deebo Samuel enjoyed a 22-yard run of his own.

When asked about why the 49ers face their level of success on the ground, Samuel acknowledged the importance of the blocking, which has been relayed to the receivers as well.

"[Our success is predicated on] the blocking, for sure, and it's also our mindset. Whenever any one of us got the ball in our hands, [we] just always try to put the team in a better position to win."

Samuel understands how football is truly a team game, especially in the Kyle Shanahan offensive scheme, where a singular missed block can disrupt the outcome of a play.

However, when the pieces are put together, the 49ers can generate explosive plays, which allow them to involve a balanced offensive attack and see the success they've encountered over the second half of the season.

"That's just what we do as a team. We harp on making a big block or putting ourselves in position to make big plays, and it takes all 11. That's just what we go out there and do.

Samuel also had a major 74-yard touchdown catch, taking a short pass from Brock Purdy to the house. However, he was aided by a significant block from Brandon Aiyuk on Tariq Woolen that paved the way for Samuel's touchdown, which the 27-year-old receiver was thankful for following the game.

"Oh, 100 percent, [I saw Aiyuk blocking in front of me]. When I turn the curve and I see it's him, just like if he turns the curve and sees it's me, we're just going to give our all to try get each other in the box."

Brandon Aiyuk and Jauan Jennings have developed into two of the better-blocking receivers in the NFL throughout their careers, which allows the 49ers to operate more efficiently in their outside zone scheme.

The 49ers will look to impose their physicality on the Dallas Cowboys this Sunday when the two teams meet up in the Divisional Round, with the winner facing either the Philadelphia Eagles or the New York Giants.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.
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