On Sunday against the Cleveland Browns, the San Francisco 49ers put up a very good defensive performance. It did break down at times, but the Browns were eventually held to just ten points and only 74 yards rushing. Only 43 of those rushing yards came from an actual running back, and with these stats comes another, slightly more awesome stat. For a bit of a disclaimer, it's "awesome" in the sense that it's kind of badass and impressive, but not necessarily awesome in the sense that it should be celebrated.
What's worthy of that kind of disclaimer? Well - injuries of course. There's a very clear and defined line in sports when it comes to player injuries ... there is a positive gain for the opposing team but they're never something that should be celebrated. But from an impressive standpoint? The 49ers have injured running backs in their last three games, and the injuries have kept players out.
LeGarrette Blount was injured in week five when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers got blown out at Candlestick Park. Blount had ten carries for 34 yards before he was hit in his knee and knocked out of the game. Later on, we learned that Blount suffered an MCL sprain and he has yet to return to action, missing games against the New Orleans Saints and Chicago Bears.
The following week, Jahvid Best suffered a concussion against the 49ers, and he too has not yet returned to action, missing games against the Atlanta Falcons and Denver Broncos. Best left the game after just 12 attempts for 37 yards. There was even talk about Best not playing again this season, since he suffered a concussion in the preseason as well.
Now it's Montario Hardesty, making the start for Peyton Hillis for the Browns on Sunday. Hardesty strained his right calf in the first half of the game and did not return. He only had two carries for six yards on the day before going out with an injury.
They're not necessarily trying to injure running backs, but it's definitely a testament to San Francisco's hard-nosed style of play. Safeties Dashon Goldson and Donte Whitner begin every play as though they're fired from a cannon, while Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman are the embodiment of accurate and sudden tackling. Nobody with the football in their hands gets off lightly when they're playing the 49ers.
And that's just how Vic Fangio intends it to be.