Huard: Seahawks facing ‘scariest’ run game against 49ers
While Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is having the season of his life, perhaps en route to his first MVP award, the talk around the team over the last few weeks has been the defense.
After the Hawks’ secondary has been torched in recent games by quarterbacks like Atlanta backup Matt Schaub (460 yards, 1 touchdown) and Tampa Bay’s Jameis Winston (335 yards, 2 touchdowns), the Seahawks’ pass defense or lack thereof has remained a major concern despite the team’s 7-2 record.
If the Seahawks want to pull off the road upset against the undefeated San Francisco 49ers on Monday night, Brock Huard says the focus will be on taking away the 49ers’ potent running attack.
Huard joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant for the Blue 42 segment Thursday morning and explained that San Francisco’s rushing offense will be the toughest task yet this season for Seattle’s struggling defense.
“This, to me, is (Seattle’s) most daunting challenge of the season,” Huard said.
What makes the 49ers’ offense so unique in today’s NFL, where quarterbacks numbers get all the love, is their running attack. San Francisco has three running backs who each have more than 300 yards rushing this season.
Matt Brieda leads the team with 524 rushing yards and is averaging 5.3 yards per carry and a rushing score. Despite missing two games, Tevin Coleman has amassed 355 yards with an average of 4.3 yards per carry and five scores. The third option, Raheem Mosert, has also made an impact with 307 yards, 5.6 yards per carry and a rushing score. All three have one receiving touchdown as well.
“All I know is they have the most diverse run game in the NFL,” Huard said.
San Francisco is second in the league in rushing yards per game with 171.1. Seattle’s run defense, on the other hand, ranks 13th against the run (102.7 yards per game), but the team has given up 12 rushing scores, which ranks 31st in the league.
Huard and former NFL offensive lineman Mark Schlereth spoke on a recent Brock and Salk podcast about the 49ers, who Schlereth had covered in a game for FOX Sports. In that conversation, there was discussion on how most NFL teams don’t feature a wide array of run schemes, especially compared to the passing game. Some teams are more zone-based or utilize more power runs, but that’s not the case with 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense, Huard said.
“The 49ers do it all. They throw the whole artillery of the run game at you.”
Shanahan’s father, Mike Shanahan, utilized many different run schemes when leading the Denver Broncos in the 1990s, when they had Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Terrell Davis. Huard says the younger Shanahan is building upon that.
“I think he’s seen that you cannot just be a one-trick pony and have one run scheme to go to,” Huard explained. “They’re a trap team, they’re a power team, a counter team, a jet sweep team, they’re a zone team inside and out, they’re a stretch team.”
And like we’ve seen in Seattle with Russell Wilson, a good, consistent run game sets up play-action passes, which 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and the San Francisco offense has heavily employed this season.
To set up play-action, San Francisco will look to establish the run early and often, so Seattle will need to stop the run to prevent tight end George Kittle and company from wreaking havoc in the passing game.
“Their run (game) and the depth of that run game is by far the scariest, and if you don’t stop it everything else that comes off of it you’re dead on arrival,” Huard said.
You can listen to Huard’s full segment with Danny and Gallant at this link or in the player below.