5 key things to know about Chargers’ Week 10 opponent: 49ers

After defeating the Falcons, the Chargers meet with the 49ers on Sunday night, Nov. 13, at 5:20 pm PT.

To get you prepped for the Week 10 bout, here are five key things to know about Los Angeles’ opponent ahead of the matchup.

Run CMC

The 49ers made the trade of the season, giving up second-, third- and fourth-round selections in the 2023 NFL draft, along with a fifth-rounder in 2024 to the Panthers, for Christian McCaffrey. After a relatively slow start in his debut for San Francisco, McCaffrey got more comfortable with Kyle Shanahan’s playbook and went off the week after, amassing 183 all-purpose yards in a victory over the Rams in Week 8. In that performance, McCaffrey became the first player since LaDainian Tomlinson in 2005 to have passing, rushing and receiving touchdowns in a single game. While he’s primarily lined up in the backfield, the Niners have been getting the most out of his versatility, as McCaffrey has received snaps in the slot and outside.

Complimentary piece

Given the term “wide-back” to describe his style of play, Samuel was the 49ers’ best receiver and their best running back a season ago. In 2021, Samuel posted a career-high 1,405 yards on 77 receptions in 16 games. He also averaged 18.2 yards per reception and had six touchdowns. Further, Samuel had 365 rushing yards on 59 carries with eight touchdowns. But with the arrival of McCaffrey, the offense won’t have to run through Samuel, and he can focus on playing wide receiver. Samuel was out with a hamstring injury during the 49ers’ game against the Rams, but he is practicing and is expected to play this weekend. This season, Samuel has 31 receptions for 386 yards and two touchdowns and 139 rushing yards and a score on the ground.

But wait, there’s more

The 49ers’ offense also features other skill players needed to be accounted for. Brandon Aiyuk is the leading receiver for a middle-of-the-pack 49ers passing offense with Jimmy Garoppolo at the helm. Aiyuk has 38 receptions for 483 yards and four touchdowns. In his last three games, Aiyuk has gotten 80-plus receiving yards and hauled three touchdown passes during that span. George Kittle has come nowhere near his breakout campaign in 2018, which saw him finish with 1,377 receiving yards, but he’s still one of the most physically imposing tight ends that can’t be forgotten. Kittle has caught 28 passes for 319 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Elijah Mitchell entered the year as the 49ers’ starting running back after a historic rookie campaign with 963 yards (4.7 yards per attempt) and five touchdowns. He then sustained an MCL sprain in the 2022 season opener and hasn’t played since, but Shanahan said Mithcell will be activated from injured reserve before Sunday’s game.

Prolific pass defense

The 49ers have done a good job of making life difficult for opposing quarterbacks. They are 13th in pass defense DVOA and eight in passing yards allowing (199.2) and yards per attempt (6.3). It starts up front, where they’ve amassed 26 sacks, which is fifth-most in the NFL. Nick Bosa, the brother of Joey, has 8.5 sacks (tied for second-most). Samson Ebukam and Charles Omenihu each have three sacks.

Even better against the run

The 49ers rank fourth in run defense, and are averaging just 3.4 yards per carry, which is the least allowed in the league. San Francisco’s front is stout, but the guys at the second and third levels, led by linebackers Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw and safety Talanoa Hufanga, deserve recognition as each one of them consistently rallies to the football.

Story originally appeared on Chargers Wire