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Can the 49ers’ run game come alive against the Chargers’ defense?

Kyle Shanahan’s rushing offense hasn’t been up to the mark, but they get the right opponent at the right time.

San Francisco 49ers v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

The 49ers’ rushing attack has been unusually ineffective up until this point of the season. Whether it’s due to injuries in the backfield or inconsistent offensive line play, the 49ers’ run game hasn’t produced as it has in previous seasons.

John Lynch went out and added Christian McCaffrey at the trade deadline, and the team will also get back Elijah Mitchell from injury this week in hopes that it will inject life into their run game.

Another thing that will aid the 49ers’ chances of having a successful day on the ground is the Chargers’ run defense.

The Chargers currently give up 5.70 yards per carry — which is dead last in the NFL and the second-worst mark in NFL history. In addition, they’re ranked 31st in Expected Points Added per Play, meaning they give up a ton of big plays on the ground.

In Los Angeles’ last six games, they’ve given up 100 yards rushing two times and given up 200 yards rushing three times. The only team that didn’t rush for 100 yards was Denver, and they ran for 98 yards.

Kyle Shanahan has also had success against Chargers’ head coach Brandon Staley when they faced off in 2020. Staley was the defensive coordinator for the Rams that season and the 49ers rushed for more than 100 yards in both matchups (112 and 113 rushing yards, to be specific).

Los Angeles also is one of the poorer tackling teams in the NFL, with starting linebacker Drue Tranquil missing eight tackles and interior lineman Sebastian Joseph-Day missing four tackles. Both are among the worst at their respective positions.

The Chargers are also 31st in DVOA against opposing running backs in the pass game, so expect lots of Christian McCaffrey in the passing game this week.

I just think the 49ers are a bad matchup for the Chargers, given the way that San Francisco likes to play on offense. They’re getting healthy at the running back spot, while the Chargers will be without Joey Bosa and Austin Johnson — two key run defenders.

Expect a big ground game from Kyle Shanahan’s squad and for their run game to come alive versus a life-less Chargers’ run defense.