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“The 49ers have the best run game in the NFL”

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When everyone knows you’re going to run the ball, and they still can’t stop it, it’s tough to argue.

Cleveland Browns v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Football Outsiders has a stat called adjusted line yards, which is a formula that measures a running back’s carries, and assigns responsibility to the offensive line. The 49ers are comfortably the best in the NFL. On average, the offensive line is creating 5.4 yards per carry for the running backs before they are being touched. Think about that. The next closest team is Buffalo, at 5.09 adjusted line yards. Almost a half-yard difference between first and second place.

Listen to this clip from ESPN’s Field Yates:

Breida was recorded as the fastest speed for any ball-carrier, running over 22 mph. The Niners are running the ball 54% of the time. The talk about game-flow is a bit overrated. Kyle Shanahan isn’t going to go away from something if it’s working. The 49ers run game is working.

It’s a combination of the offensive line creating holes, the running backs being disciplined, but also making players miss, and Shanahan window dressing and using motion to confuse defenses. You never know what’s coming. George Kittle ran a jet sweep and gained 18 yards. The play worked so well they came back with the same play to Marquise Goodwin, and he gained 15 yards.

The 49ers are also the best team at the second level, per Football Outsiders. That stat basically tells us who is creating for themselves. On Monday, Breida, Tevin Coleman, and Raheem Mostert each forced two missed tackles. There were a few other plays where each of their speed took over and they outran the a Browns’ defenders angles.

The guys upfront are making life easy for whoever is carrying the ball. A healthy Weston Richburg makes a difference:

That’s the 49ers go-to run play. “Sift zone,” where Juice steps in one direction, then takes off in another. Opposing defenses are left scrambling, and that provides massive running lanes. It helps when your center is blocking defensive tackles five yards and into the ground.

Kyle Juszczyk is a key part of the running game. We’ll discuss the options on how to replace him tomorrow. The Browns were loading the box and blitzing, knowing the 49ers weren’t going to throw the ball, so I don’t want to be to down on Ross Dwelley, but there’s a stark difference in awareness. Missing Mike McGlinchey will be a significant loss as well. The Niners were averaging 6.02 yards per carry running behind the right tackle this season. That number is good for second in the league. On runs to the right end, their average went up to 6.24, which is fourth in the NFL. Shanahan will adjust. He always does.