The 49ers play the Jets Sunday at the Meadowlands. In the meantime, I’ll break down one key matchup per day.
Running backs Shonn Green (5-11, 226 pounds) and Bilal Powell (5-10, 204 pounds) vs. the 49ers defensive front.
The Vikings proved that you have to establish a running game and stick with it to beat the 49ers. The Jets like to run – they’ve rushed 91 times this season, 5 fewer than the Vikings – the problem is the Jets aren’t very good at running.
Shonn Greene, their starter, is averaging 2.8 yards per carry this season. He has no burst or elusiveness and he tries to run everyone over.
Their backup running back, Bilal Powell, has rushed only 22 times through three games, but he’s played better than Greene. Powell is averaging 4 yards per rush and 13.3 yards per catch. Don’t be surprised if Powell gets more touches than Greene gets against the 49ers.
Powell and Greene need to combine for at least 30 carries for the Jets to have a real chance at winning. Mark Sanchez is not a good quarterback, but he can be effective sometimes on play action passes if the defense respects the Jets’ run game.
So far this season, the Jets are averaging 3.73 yards per rush on first down. If they can average 3.5 yards per carry on first down against the Niners, then the play-action passing game will open up for Mark Sanchez on second down like it opened up for Christian Ponder in Week 3.
But the Jets won’t average 3.5 yards per carry on first down or any down against the Niners.
Adrian Peterson, an All Pro, averaged 3.4 yards per carry against the Niners. Powell and Green are going to average fewer than 3 yards per carry against them on Sunday.