Broncos run game vs 49ers run defense.
Well after digging deeper, the run game is a big reason the 49ers lost. Their defense consistently struggled to stop the run. On the rare occasion the 49ers defense did well against the run, it was behind the back of a couple of players, but more on that later.
The Broncos offense needs to use counters in the run game. When the Ravens used them, it was to great success. The 49ers defense does not have a lot of speed in their front seven, especially if Patrick Willis doesn’t play and with Navarro Bowman out. If the Broncos get the defense going one way only to cut back and change the direction, the defense has a hard time to recover.
When running to the outside, the Broncos need to use speed. This is an area Ronnie Hillman can have a huge day. He is the fastest Broncos RB and if he can get outside fast enough, he will get a solid gain. Like previously mention, the 49ers ae missing speed on their defense, so a stretch play will spread the defense thin in the front seven.
If the Broncos are rushing up the middle, they need to run through the A-gap between Orlando Franklin and Manny Ramirez. The right side of the 49ers front seven struggled more than the left side. One player was a big reason for that, but there will be more on him later when I focus on certain players.
The 49ers rush linebackers are not the best at setting the edge. Even when they do a good job, however, there is a lack of follow through.
Here you can see #96 as the edge setter. It may look like he has done a good job, but looks can be deceiving. If you even look at the RBs feet, it looks like he is about to cut back inside, which is he did, at least #51 is there to make the stop.
This is the same play just a few second later. The RB cut outside instead of back inside. In the previous picture it looked like #96 had set the edge, but he was off-balance. He got too high and the offensive linemen got underneath him. The OL easily took advantage of him and moved him out-of-the-way, giving the RB space to cut back outside. This play ended up going for a 6-yard gain, after some fancy moves from the RB.
There were many other plays that broke down similarly. A run to the outside, the edge setter looked to have done his job, but instead put himself in a bad spot. The OL took charge and made room for the RB.
The last two things the Broncos can do in the run game, can be said for any game. The offensive line must get a push. If they don’t, the run game struggled. The Ravens offensive line was able to control the trenches, but the 49ers front made it easy. If that doesn’t change, the Broncos should be able to exploit it easily. The last is protect the ball. Every run play, the 49ers defense worked hard to strip the ball. A few times, they succeeded.
The Broncos should be able to see good success from the RB’s, especially Hillman and Juwan Thompson. Hillman has the speed to stretch the defense and the extra gear to burst for a nice gain. Thompson has a power, burst, vision combination that a few of the Ravens RB’s have and used to go for a big gain. When the Broncos use counters, Thompson will be the best option, Kapri Bibbs would be a good one as well. To stretch the defense, Hillman or Brennan Clay will do perfect.