49ers putting the hurt on opposing backs

January, 16, 2012
1/16/12
4:11
PM ET
The hit San Francisco 49ers safety Donte Whitner put on New Orleans' Pierre Thomas set a physical tone for one of the NFL's best defenses Saturday.

It also knocked Thomas from the game with a concussion.

Tough break? Yes, but not entirely unexpected. Thomas became the seventh starting running back to leave a game against the 49ers after suffering an injury. One of them, Philadlephia's LeSean McCoy, returned a short time later. He was slow to get up after blocking the 49ers' Ray McDonald in pass protection.

The chart shows how starting runners have fared against the 49ers this season. The two highest rushing totals came when Patrick Willis was either sidelined by injury (Week 16) or rusty following a month-long layoff (Week 17). Overall, opposing starters averaged about 12 carries for 41 yards against the 49ers this season.

The New York Giants will have starter Ahmad Bradshaw when they visit San Francisco in the NFC title game Sunday. Bradshaw missed the teams' game at Candlestick Park during the regular season. He missed four games overall.

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