There was a sequence in the third quarter of Sunday’s contest against the 49ers in which the Cardinals’ run defense was gashed repeatedly on carries right up the middle.
On three consecutive plays, the 49ers got an 11-yard carry from Alfred Morris, a 7-yarder from Morris and a 12-yard gain from Raheem Mostert. The common theme? Defensive tackle Corey Peters wasn’t playing.
While he doesn’t put up big sack numbers, Peters is an invaluable piece to the run defense, as evidenced by the results from this game.
In the 25 running plays in which Peters was on the field, the 49ers mustered 76 rushing yards, for a 3.04 yards-per-carry average. In the eight rushing plays Peters was getting a breather, the 49ers managed 65 yards and a touchdown – an 8.13 yards-per-carry clip.
After those three big third-quarter runs, the 49ers kept the ball on the ground the next two plays. By this time, Peters was back in the contest. The result was two carries for a total of zero yards.