ESPN's NFC West blogger Mike Sando put together a small write-up this afternoon that I thought was rather amusing. He predicted the 49ers would win Sunday's game 27-7 and was apparently asked if he thought the Rams 7 would come from a rushing touchdown. In response, he wrote up a scenario that could be a dream scenario for an objective NFL fan, but would likely cause some heartburn for 49ers fans:
The 49ers lead by five. The opponent has fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line with one second remaining in the fourth quarter. The opposing team's leading rusher has 99 yards on the ground. The 49ers, having not allowed a 100-yard rusher in their last 33 games, need a victory to clinch something of importance.
The 49ers rush defense is playing at a level that hasn't been seen in some time. The 49ers are actually tied for second in the league in yards per attempt given up, but the real numbers are in not allowing 100-yard rushers and not giving up rushing touchdowns. The 49ers have not given up a rushing touchdown through the first 11 games of the season season and are the first team since the 1928 Providence Steamrollers to do so. Maybe the 49ers should get the defense some Steamrollers t-shirts?
The 49ers rush defense will face a stiff challenge from the always tough Steven Jackson, but if it comes down to a situation like Sando described above, the 49ers are playing as well as any in that kind of scenario. Insider the ten-yard line, opponents have attempted 14 runs for 10 yards. Inside the five-yard line, opponents have attempted six rushes for -2 yards. While there wouldn't be monster rushing numbers inside the ten and five yard lines, it is still a very impressive performance to date.