There is a time to pass, and a time to run
Against the 49ers, the Rams rushed 18 times for 57 yards. The 49ers rushed 22 times for 88 yards. But if you remove the 32-yard touchdown run by RB Jeff Wilson Jr, the 49ers’ rest of the game was 21 rushes for 56 yards or less effective running than the Rams. If’s and buts, right?
The case being made here is that running the football, even when it is not generating 55 yards in a breakout play, is a very effective weapon to use. That is doubled when the defense pins its ears back and blitzes, stunts, or makes a significant effort to create pressure on the quarterback.
Just like the 49ers did.
In fact, the 49ers’ big run occured with an overshift of the Rams’ defense, and a cutback to the weak side by Wilson and then running for daylight. It was the right offensive play for the play that the Rams ran on defense.
Keep defenses honest
Running the football catches overeager defenses by surprise, stinging defensive coordinators for calling a blitz that resulted in positive yards. Even if running the football fails to move the chains, it gives the quarterback one more play where he is not driven to the ground.
As soon as Coleman Shelton was injured, that was a signal for the Rams and the 49ers. The 49ers’ defense recognized what it meant and launched a barrage of blitzes and stunts to confuse what would become a brand-new version of the Rams’ offensive line. The Rams adjusted nothing and passed 48 times into a defense that was sold out to create pressure on the quarterback.
The LA Rams are currently the 30th-ranked rushing offense in the NFL, averaging just 68.5 yards per game. But they are the 31st-ranked rushing offense in terms of running plays per game with just 20.5. In contrast, the Cincinnati Bengals average fewer yards per run (3.1 yards per run) than the LA Rams (3.3 yards per run).