SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The San Francisco 49ers' offense challenges opponents to stop them on the ground.
The Carolina Panthers’ defense dares opposing offenses to run on them.
The 49ers have won five straight game and the Panthers have won four straight games. This game of the two streaking teams may be decided on the ground.
The 49ers have the NFL’s fourth-ranked run offense and, according to ESPN Stats & Information, it leads the NFL by calling running plays on 50.3 percent of their plays. The Panthers have the league’s top ranked run defense.
The 49ers have been running with great success for most of the season. Teams have stacked eight and nine players in the box and San Francisco has still run the ball.
The Panthers, however, are having success stopping the run by often playing a normal seven-man front. San Francisco offensive coordinator Greg Roman said the Panthers challenge opponents to run on them.
“Carolina’s an interesting team because I really believe they think they can stop the run with a seven-man front and they’ve been doing that quite well,” Roman said. “And that’s always, from a football perspective if you’re a defensive coordinator and you feel good about playing seven-man spacing against an offense and stopping the run game, man you are living large. You’re playing with house money. And it’s going to be a challenge because they’re the best team we’ve seen that plays the run in seven-man spacing.”