The 49ers aren't just stopping opposing running backs this year. They're sending them to the X-ray room.
The Browns, for example, signed one-time 49ers running back Thomas Clayton today after Montario Hardesty was diagnosed with a partial calf tear suffered early in Sunday's loss to San Francisco. Hardesty joins a list of runners, including the Cowboys' Felix Jones, the Buccaneers' LeGarrette Blount and the Lions' Jahvid Best (concussion) who have been injured while playing the 49ers.
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, of course, also suffered a fractured rib and a deflated lung when he was struck by Ahmad Brooks in the first quarter of Week 2.
Some of the injuries in question, such as Best's, were not the result of ferocious hits. Best was injured on a downfield play in which his helmet struck hard against Ford Field's artificial surface. Hardesty suffered his injury running a pass route. Still, the 49ers' run defense has been a nightmare for running backs.
It ranks first in the league in holding opposing teams to 73.4 yards per game, and it has not allowed a rushing touchdown this season. Cincinnati's Cedric Benson is the only tailback to run for more than 50 yards against the 49ers.
Meanwhile, 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman ranks second in the league with 68 tackles. Patrick Willis is tied for 25th with 54 tackles. (Not every team has had its bye week). The Colts Pat Angerer is first with 90 tackles.
Rough on starters
Marshawn Lynch, 33 yards, 2.5 avg.
Felix Jones, 25 yards, 2.8 avg.
Cedric Benson, 64 yards, 3.8 avg.
LeSean McCoy, 18 yards, 2.0 avg.
LeGarrette Blount, 34 yards, 3.4 avg.
Jahvid Best, 37 yards, 3.1 avg.
Montario Hardesty, 6 yards, 3.0 avg.
Ho hum. Another week, another nomination for Frank Gore. The 49ers running back is up for Fed Ex "Ground" Player of the Week after his 134-yard, two touchdown (I'm giving him the second one) performance against Cleveland. Gore currently ranks fifth in the league in rushing. Two of the players ahead of him, Minnesota's Adrian Peterson and Jacksonville's Maurice Jones-Drew, have not had their bye week. The others are McCoy (second place) and Buffalo's Fred Jackson (fourth place).
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-- Matt Barrows