The 49ers will go into Sunday’s game against the Chargers without their franchise quarterback, but they will have Matt Breida.
Breida, tied for the NFL lead in rushing, injured his knee in last week’s loss to the Chiefs, but participated in practice Wednesday and appears poised to play this Sunday afternoon against the Los Angeles Chargers.
That’s good news for a team that will need every advantage it can get, especially against a Chargers defense that has been weak against the run. The Chargers have given up an average of 120.3 yards per game on the ground – 4.3 yards per attempt – in their 1-2 start to 2018. That ranks 24th in the NFL. Breida, meanwhile, is tied for the lead in rushing yards with 274, has averaged a whopping 8.4 yards per carry and already has six runs of 20 or more yards.
On Sunday, the 49ers could give the ball to Breida early and often.
"I think a run game is the key for any quarterback," 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan told Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle. "Especially in our situation right now."
Breida was limited in practice Wednesday but told the media he’s "doing all right" and is hopeful he can play Sunday.
The 49ers offensive line has done a good job opening holes for running backs over the first three weeks, despite the loss of No. 1 back Jerick McKinnon before the season. Veteran Alfred Morris also has been effective, rushing for 153 yards. As a team, the 49ers rank No. 2 in the NFL in rushing, with 152.7 yards per game and 5.6 yards per carry.
Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan says the duo of Breida and Morris gives the offense a nice combination of backs with different styles. Whichever is running best will get the ball the most Sunday.
"It’ll depend on how series are going, what front they’re playing," Shanahan said. "But we’ve got two guys we believe in."
Breida, however, doesn’t believe he’ll have to carry the team on his shoulders against the Chargers. He believes second-year quarterback C.J. Beathard will do fine in replacing Jimmy Garoppolo, who is out for the season with torn knee ligaments.
"He’s going to shock a lot of people," Breida said this week. "A lot of people probably expect him to go in there and not do that great, but if you paid close attention last year, he’s going to be great."
The 49ers-Chargers game is scheduled to kick off Sunday at 1:25 p.m.