Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Niners Passing on Their Running Game

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Niners Passing on Their Running Game

Article excerpt

Jerry Rice has put together staggering receiving numbers. Steve Young is airing the ball out. The 49ers are moving ball up and down and the field.

The only problem heading into Saturday's divisional playoff against Green Bay (12-5) is San Francisco's running game, which has just about disappeared in the last three weeks.

Young has thrown 138 passes in the last three games, an average of 46 per outing, and Rice had 32 receptions during that span, including a career-high 14 for a team-record 289 yards in a 37-30 victory over Minnesota on Dec. 20.

Meanwhile, Derek Loville, in his first season as San Francisco's starting halfback, has gained nearly as many yards receiving (100) as rushing (117) in the past three games.

San Francisco's running attack ranked 23rd in the league and accounted for 207 yards on 71 attempts during the past three weeks while the passing game produced 1,118 on 111 plays.

"In order for us to win the games in the playoffs we know we have to be a little more balanced, running attack-wise, and our coaching staff will address that," tackle Harris Barton said. "I don't know if there are troubles with the running game. It's hard to run the ball when it's not called."

The 49ers (11-5) set a team record with 644 pass attempts this season, surpassing the 602 in 1979 when the team went 2-14.

But the lopsided pass-run ratio has been particularly noticeable in the past two weeks, when San Francisco was putting up nearly three passes for every run.

"You've got to know we're a passing team so it's not completely unusual," Young said. "But, certainly we don't want to be one-sided. We don't want to have 30 yards rushing or 40 or 50. We've got to look for 150 yards rushing a game and throw the ball enough to offset some runs and pound it at them.

"We're not going to trick anyone by throwing an extra amount. They know we're going to come out throwing but we still need to run the football."

Part of the problem has been the loss of fullback William Floyd, who went down with a season-ending knee injury Oct. …

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