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49ers vs. Cardinals: Andre Ellington could be significant factor

The San Francisco 49ers can't afford to overlook Arizona Cardinals running back Andre Ellington on Sunday.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The player I'll be most looking out for on Sunday is Arizona Cardinals running back Andre Ellington. I'm not a fan of what he's been doing in Arizona, mostly because he's been doing good things. And for San Francisco 49ers fans, that's bad.

Ellington, a rookie, has earned some playing time alongside Rashard Mendenhall, who has not been very good this season. To Mendenhall's credit, he's picked things up over the past four or so games, so it's a good thing that the Cardinals stuck with him, but he was a mess early on in the season.

Arizona, for one reason or another, does not want to give Ellington a ton of touches per game. They suspect he has durability issues, or they're worried about putting too much on him or once, or something we're unaware of. The point is that he hasn't carried more than 15 times in a game, even when he's clearly out-playing Mendenhall.

Against the 49ers, Mendenhall managed 10 carries for 30 yards with no scores. Ellington fared quite a bit better though, carried the ball seven times for 56 yards and a touchdown. That's a per-carry average of 8.0 yards and he also managed five receptions for 36 yards.

If the 49ers overlook Ellington this time out, I can see him being a real problem. I think the 49ers were being a little over-aggressive against the Cardinals the first time out and I think it shows on tape that Ellington was the primary beneficiary of that aggression. This could be the game in which we see Ellington get over 15 carries.

And if that happens, the 49ers could be on the losing end, if they aren't prepared for that possiblity.