Over at SB Nation Bay Area we've got a running story stream covering this weekend's Battle of the Bay between our 49ers and the Oakland Raiders. As part of that stream, our Raiders writers and 49ers writers are collaborating to discuss some of the interesting matchups for this weekend's matchup. Over the course of the next few days I'll point out a few of them to get everybody's thoughts on what really could be huge matchups.
Yesterday, Rich Langford pointed out the 49ers struggles in pass defense against running backs. Football Outsiders rolls out a rundown of defensive performance against wide receivers, tight ends, and running backs, and the 49ers rank dead last against running backs. I pointed out in my response that the 49ers have had to deal with a whole host of solid receiving backs, including Reggie Bush, Pierre Thomas and Dexter McCluster among others.
Of course, given that the Raiders employ a great receiving back in Darren McFadden, the 49ers could find themselves in trouble on Sunday. McFadden was limited in practice yesterday but is expected to take the field Sunday against the 49ers. In four weeks of active play, McFadden has had 55, 8, 17, and 82 receiving yards. What's most intriguing is that the smaller receiving totals came when he had his bigger workloads as a running back. This weekend even if 100% it sounds like Michael Bush will be the #1 back, which frees McFadden up for the receiving game.
My question is how can the 49ers best handle McFadden, and really all the Raiders running backs when it comes to pass defense? While the 49ers have had success at times against running backs, they've struggled quite a bit this season whether it be shoddy coverage or piss-poor tackling. Will it be rectified in time for this Sunday?