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49ers vs. Eagles: Philly's Struggles Against The Run

Over on twitter, Tre9er retweeted an Evan Silva tweet pointing out that the Eagles rank 30th against the run, giving up 4.93 yards per carry. If you want to look further at some advanced statistics, the Eagles ranked 23rd in adjusted line yards allowed. Over the first three weeks of the season, the Eagles have given up 154 yards (5.9 ypc) against the Rams, 138 yards (4.8 ypc) against the Falcons, and 102 yards (4.1 ypc) against the Giants.

Bleeding Green Nation's JasonB put together a post earlier today discussing the Eagles use of the "Wide Nine" defense (h/t to dlh for linking it in the secondary post). The defense spreads out the defensive line a bit more, but even though there appear to be bigger holes, from my understanding, the defense is basically setting a trap with linebackers prepared to get in and stop the running backs.

According to Jason there has been some blame spreading around about the wide nine defense given the strong performances of running backs to date. This is one area where the advanced statistics of Football Outsiders can provide some context for the Eagles performance. The Eagles defense has ranked fairly solid in power success and stuffing runners. However, their struggles appear to be in the second level and open field. They've dealt with some tackling issues thus far and that could explain the problem when a player does get through the holes of the front nine.

The 49ers are in an interesting situation this weekend with their running back position. It looks like Frank Gore was a participant in practice today, although we won't know for a bit if he was limited or a full participant. It looks more and more likely like he'll be ready to play on Sunday. However, with the success Kendall Hunter had in limited action last week, the team needs to figure out how best to utilize both running backs. Potentially the 49ers own version of "Thunder and Lightning" ?

Sweeps and off tackle runs could be the key to success over pounding it right up the middle. The 49ers passing attack can make plays against the Eagles in shorter yardage plays. Unless they can consistently develop a deep threat, which we haven't seen much of to date, it is essential that they finally get the rushing attack going on a consistent basis. That could prove pivotal if the 49ers are going to spring an upset over the Eagles.