The 49ers play the Seahawks at Candlestick on Thursday night. In the meantime, I’ll break down a couple of key matchups every day.
Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter vs. The Seahawks run defense
This is the key matchup of Thursday night’s game. The Seahawks defense allows 3.3 yards per rush and 70 rushing yards per game. The 49ers offense gains 5.9 yards per rush and 176.5 rushing yards per game.
The 49ers have a diverse running attack – nine players ran the ball against the Jets in Week 4 – but Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter are the most important runners on the team.
When they’ve combined for more than 20 carries, the 49ers are 16-0. When Gore and Hunter have received 20-or-fewer combined carries, the 49ers are 2-6, and in those 2 wins (against the Steelers and Saints), the 49ers defense forced 10 turnovers.
The formula for the 49ers’ success seems pretty obvious: Feed the ball to Gore and Hunter more than 20 times.
Last week against the Giants, the 49ers’ RB duo combined for just 12 carries, so both guys should be rested and ready to carry the load against the Seahawks on Thursday night.
Last time the 49ers played the Seahawks, Gore and Hunter combined for 35 carries and 156 rushing yards. I don’t expect them to produce quite that much on Thursday – Seattle’s run defense has improved this season with the addition of rookie middle linebacker Bobby Wagner – but as long as Gore and Hunter carry the ball more than 20 times, they should win this matchup and the 49ers should beat the Seahawks.