Running in the Rain
67 rushing attempts, 352 COMBINED rushing yards, and lots of rain couldn’t stop two formidable, powerhouse playoff teams from doing what they do best: Running the damn ball.
Coming into the game, the Ravens and 49ers were 1st and 2nd in rushing yards and rushing attempts per game. Although the Ravens are just as much of a run-heavy team with incumbent RB1 Mark Ingram, star quarterback Lamar Jackson is just as much of the rushing offense as is Ingram, arguably more impactful than Ingram.
On the season, Jackson has run the ball 140 times for an astonishing 977 yards in only 12 games. Jackson is on pace to shatter the single season rushing record for QBs, held by Michael Vick (1039 rush yards).
In this game Lamar carried the ball 16 times for 101 yards, averaging 6.3 per carry. Ingram on the other hand, carried the ball 15 times for 59 yards, averaging a mere 3.9 per carry.
Preparation was key for the 49ers, as defensive coordinator Robert Saleh had been gearing up his squad all week to take on the likes of the physical, hard-hitting Ravens.
“Wear your big boy pads, because it’s going to be physical”. Saleh had said prior to the big game.
And physical it was. Both teams coming in were/are respectable against the run. Baltimore came in allowing 87.7 yards per game, albeit they’re a coverage-heavy team, allowing d coordinator Don Martindale to constantly stack the box and blitz as much as possible (48.1% of the time). The 49ers on the other hand, came in allowing 111.1 rush yards per game, 19th best in the NFL.
Even after facing a heavy box, the 49ers were still able to run the ball more efficiently than the Ravens (6.0 yards per rush). On the day, they ran for 174 yards, led by 3rd string back and special team’s gunner Raheem Mostert. Mostert, who ran for 146 yards on 19 carries, averaged 7.7 yards per attempt, with a long of 40 yards, which was a touchdown. The last 49ers RB to run for over 100 yards was Tevin Coleman against the Panthers, which was a 30-point blowout.
For Mostert to come in relatively cold, and quickly take the workload from Coleman, is something to keep an eye on moving forward. The 49ers still have one of the best backfields in football, however, Mostert’s effectiveness is something to watch, as the 49ers will be getting stud RB Matt Breida back next week against the Saints.
Although the box score does show that the Ravens ran well against the 49ers, deep dive into the stats may say otherwise.
Not only did the defense hold one of the best offenses to 283 total yards, but they held the Ravens to a respectable 4.7 yards per rush. Keep in mind that a team running 4.7 would be top-10 in the league, however, Baltimore on the season had been rushing for 5.7 yards per attempt. For the defense to hold their ground in heavy rain, against the best rushing team in the NFL, is impressive. Lamar was the primary carrier, running for over 100 yards. The other RBs however, combined for only 77 total rushing yards.
Overall, the defense did not lose this game. They came in as the best in the league, and left as the best in the league, even after losing 20-17.
Moving forward, the 49ers will have the chance to prove many doubters wrong, as their next game will be against Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints.