Oct 12, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Denver Broncos running back Ronnie Hillman (23) runs against the New York Jets during the second half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
The third year running back has intense pressure on him to continue to spark an underwhelming ground game. One costly mistake, and he’ll likely find himself back on the bench. On top of it all, he’s about to face a stone wall in the 49er’s defensive front.
All odds are against him, but Ronnie Hillman wouldn’t want it any other way.
Hillman has been a revelation for the Broncos. He’s ran hard and cranked out two noteworthy performances against great run defenses in the Jets and the Arizona Cardinals. 166 yards on 41 carries later and it doesn’t look like anyone, not even a soon-to-be healthy Montee Ball, will be able to unseat Hillman as the Broncos starting tailback.
When it comes to the 49ers, Hillman will be tested to the utmost extreme.
He’s proven to be a sneaky workhorse-type back the last two games but San Francisco’s front is a different beast. Their line is headed by All-Pro Justin Smith and is supported by, respectively, a few no-name defenders. Linebackers Dan Skuta, Michael Wilhoite, Chris Borland and Ahmad Brooks will be mainly charged with the task of containing the explosive Hillman.
With star middle linebacker Patrick Willis out due to a toe injury, Hillman and the offense might be able to take advantage through the teeth of the defense.
Hillman will undoubtedly be in for a stiff battle Sunday night, and the deck is stacked against him once again. But hey, let’s for once give the forgotten back of Denver the benefit of the doubt.