The San Francisco 49ers offensive line has done a fairly solid job in pass protection, but has struggled in the run game. Football Outsiders ranks them No. 16 in adjusted sack rate, and No. 30 in adjusted lined yards. The disparity can be seen beyond the statistics, but that helps to frame things a little bit.
Another way to show this is through rushing yards before contact. Pro Football Focus figures out yards before contact up the middle, to the left, to the right, and an overall average. As you can see in this table, the 49ers are not looking good. They rank No. 27 with an average of 1.10 yards before contact. Going left, they rank No. 28 with 0.93 yards before contact. Going right, they rank t-No. 20 with 1.10 yards before contact. Up the middle, they rank No. 21 with 1.33 yards before contact.
Per request, here's rushing yards before contact per attempt for all 32 teams including average for all attempts: pic.twitter.com/a3EsYNl1eM— Jeff Ratcliffe (@JeffRatcliffe) October 14, 2016
That’s bad, but it also makes Carlos Hyde’s 2016 performance that much more impressive. This season, Hyde has rushed for 377 yards, averaging 4.0 yards per carry. That number is near the normal league average for yards per carry. He is on pace for 1,206 yards in part because he is getting significant work. He is on pace for 304 carries, which would be the most by a 49ers running back since Frank Gore had 312 carries in 2006. He rushed for 1,695 yards and eight touchdowns that season.
Speaking of Gore, he rushed for ten touchdowns in 2009, which is the franchise record. He is tied with five other 49ers running backs for that mark. It is interesting to note that only one of the 49ers running backs needed a full 16 game schedule to reach ten touchdowns. Derek Loville did that in 1995. Gore reached the mark in 14 games his season.
Hyde is currently at six touchdowns through five games. I don’t think he’s going to rush for 19 touchdowns, but he is getting plenty of opportunities. There is still a lot of football left we want to see him play this season, but for now, he’s grinding away. Even with injuries, he has regularly been among the NFL’s leaders in broken tackles. Given how the offensive line is performing at this point, he is going to need to keep breaking those tackles the rest of the season.