The Seattle Seahawks are still a very similar team to our San Francisco 49ers. One thing both teams did well for the early part of this season was run the football. Seattle has Marshawn Lynch, who has been nothing short of fantastic since hitting a low-point with the Buffalo Bills. Lynch has led Seattle to the No. 3 rushing attack in the NFL, at 146.2 yards per game on average.
Lynch himself has carried the ball 224 times for 970 yards and nine touchdowns. His per-carry average of 4.3 yards is actually down from last season, but it's still solid. Frank Gore has similar numbers, but the two share another thing in common: struggles over the past couple games.
Seattle hasn't been any worse for wear for it, as the Seahawks ride a seven-game winning streak, but his lack of production is worth noting. Against the Minnesota Vikings, Lynch carried the ball 17 times for 54 yards, but did manage two touchdowns.Against the New Orleans Saints, Lynch carried the ball 16 times for 45 yards.
So what's the big issue here? Its simple: teams are stacking the box. Sure, Gore has some instability along the offensive line due to injuries to Mike Iupati and now Joe Staley, but one thing all of San Francisco's linemen share is a penchant for mauling, and I've noticed above-average run blocking from the replacements. In my opinion, it's the way defenses approach the 49ers' offense and its mostly lethargic passing game that plays the biggest role.
The Seattle offense hasn't struggled near as much as San Francisco's but Russell Wilson isn't one to throw for 300 yards every game either, despite what Seattle fans would like to believe. There are times when the Seattle passing attack simply ... isn't a threat.
It's those times when teams choose to stack the box against players like Lynch. Unfortunately for those teams, Wilson put up 540 yards and five touchdowns over those two games, and the Seahawks outscored their opponents 75-27.
In other words, the Seattle offense can survive when Lynch is taken out of the game. That doesn't mean the 49ers should ignore Lynch, it simply means that a well-balanced defensive game-plan is what's needed. Being somewhat susceptible to both the run or the pass is preferred over being highly susceptible to one of them, at least when players like Wilson and Lynch are on the other side.
Lynch's struggles are notable, but every excuse we can come up for Gore and his struggles apply to Lynch as well, at this point.