clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Will the 49ers run defense stand up to Chris Johnson without Glenn Dorsey?

The San Francisco 49ers run defense was shredded by Thomas Rawls. Can they bounce back in Week 12 with Glenn Dorsey finished for the year?

The San Francisco 49ers face the Arizona Cardinals this Sunday, looking to rebound from an all around bad performance in Week 3. The focus in that game was on Colin Kaepernick's awful day, but the 49ers defense struggled plenty on its own. It did not help to be put in a 14-0 hole, but the 49ers defense still took one on the chin. Carson Palmer threw for 311 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception, but one of the big problems was Chris Johnson. The man once known as CJ2K rushed for 110 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries, and added in a 40-yard reception. It was not pretty.

The defense has settled down for stretches, but they enter this weekend's matchup coming off a historically bad defensive performance against the run. Thomas Rawls rushed for 209 yards, marking the first time a 49ers defense has given up 200+ rushing yards to a single player. The passing attack had its way with the 49ers for stretches as well, but Rawls thoroughly dominated the team.

Pro Football Focus passed along some run grades for the game, and they were not pretty:

Michael Wilhoite: -2.6
Quinton Dial: -2.2
Eli Harold: -1.7
NaVorro Bowman: -1.4
Ahmad Brooks: -1.2

I don't have any additional run grades at this point, but one player that would not be on the list is Glenn Dorsey. The 49ers lost the defensive tackle for the rest of the season with a torn ACL. He suffered the injury on the first play of the game, and I can't help but wonder how the defense would have performed against the run if Dorsey had not gotten hurt. The defensive front currently ranks No. 31 in Football Outsiders adjusted line yards.

One of the keys to finding any sort of success will be improving on the tackling. The 49ers' tackling form was abysmal against Seattle, both against running backs and pass catchers. If they are not properly wrapping up, big hits are not going to matter nearly as much. The 49ers will have a tough enough challenge dealing with Carson Palmer and those receivers. If they don't slow Chris Johnson, this game is over before it even starts.