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Chris Johnson to remain Cardinals starting running back vs. 49ers

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The 49ers run defense is off to a strong start, and has a chance to build on it in Week 4.

Arizona Cardinals v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Arizona Cardinals lost running back David Johnson to injury Week 1, and with the start expected to miss at least a couple months, they are rotating through options to replace him. For the time being, they have settled on Chris Johnson. The veteran led the team with 12 rushes in Week 3, and finished with 17 yards. Andre Ellington led the team with 22 yards on five carries, and Kerwynn Williams had one rush for three yards.

In Week 1, Williams led the team in carries after Johnson went down. The Cardinals signed Chris Johnson, and went with a rotation in Week 2. Chris Johnson rushed 11 times for 44 yards, and Williams rushed nine times for 22 yards. Ellington had two rushes for 11 yards. Head coach Bruce Arians declared Johnson the Week 4 starter in his Tuesday press conference.

The Cardinals run game has been a mess without Johnson. On the season, they are averaging 2.8 yards per carry, and Football Outsiders ranks their run game No. 31. The 49ers have shown marked improvement in their run defense this season, allowing 3.5 yards per carry. FO ranks them No. 13 in run defense. A year ago, the 49ers gave up 4.8 yards per carry over the course of the season.

The Cardinals offense has been a relative mess for much of this season. The 49ers offense has not exactly been spectacular, finally showing some significant life in the pass game this past week. The 49ers defense has improved this year, and that is what will keep them in this game. A road game is never easy, but coming off an extra three days of rest, with Arizona playing on short rest, this bodes well for the 49ers.