49ers hope to fix struggling run defense before facing Bucs

49ers

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) – After getting run over for three straight weeks by backs such as Ezekiel Elliott, David Johnson and LeSean McCoy, the beleaguered San Francisco 49ers’ run defense may have caught a needed break.

Tampa Bay back Doug Martin suffered a setback in his rehabilitation from a hamstring injury and might not be able to make it back in time for the Buccaneers (2-3) to play Sunday in San Francisco (1-5).

It might not matter much since the Niners also allowed 100-yard games by lesser backs such as Fozzy Whitaker and Christine Michael during a five-game run of futility on run defense that has San Francisco on pace to allow the most yards rushing in a season since the 1985 Houston Oilers.

“We’re all stunned,” safety Antoine Bethea said. “We haven’t been playing to our potential, haven’t been playing to the standard we set for ourselves.”

Things might have bottomed out last week in Buffalo when McCoy ran for 140 yards and three TDs and the Bills gained 312 yards in all on the ground in the second-worst rushing defense performance in 49ers history.

“Quite frankly, I’m embarrassed by what happened on this past Sunday,” defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil said.

While missing Martin could be a break for San Francisco, backup Jacquizz Rodgers is coming off the best game of his career with 30 carries for 101 yards two weeks ago against Carolina.

That was the first time all season that the Bucs topped 100 yards rushing as a team in a game.

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