Programming note: Vic Fangio and Greg Roman are scheduled to address the media at 12:05 and 12:20 p.m. respectively. Watch the live stream right here.
SANTA CLARA – Is it as simple as giving the ball to running back Frank Gore and the 49ers’ problems on offense will be solved?
“It’s not as simple as that,” 49ers left tackle Joe Staley said. “We have to do a better job of executing what’s called.”
So why haven’t the 49ers run the ball as much as they have in the past? Perhaps the answer is because they have not been as successful on first downs when they keep it on the ground.
The 49ers have achieved true balance on first downs this season. On 202 first-and-10 plays, the 49ers have run the ball 101 times and they’ve dropped back to pass 101 times (with 92 pass attempts and nine Colin Kaepernick scrambles).
Last season, the 49ers ran the ball 56.36 percent of the times on first and 10. In 2012, the 49ers ran 49.87 percent in that situation.
And in 2011, the number was 55.8 percent.
But the biggest problem with the 49ers run game is that they have not been nearly as successful on first downs.
A year ago, the 49ers averaged 4.86 yards on first-and-10 run plays. This season, that number has dropped more than a yard to 3.75 yards. (They averaged 4.74 yards in 2011, and 5.06 yards in 2012).
Moreover, the 49ers are averaging just 5.08 yards passing on first downs this season. (They were at 6.82 yards in 2013, 8.05 in 2012, and 7.28 in 2011).
So this means the 49ers find themselves in second-and-long situations more than they have in the past three seasons.
And in those situations, second downs are becoming passing downs.