This could save the 49ers season.
Legendary running backs coach Bobby Turner has returned to the 49ers staff after stepping away in March for health reasons. Turner never officially retired, and now he's healthy, so today he was back on the 49ers practice field for the first time.
Turner has coached with Kyle Shanahan for 10 years, and before that he coached with Kyle's father, Mike Shanahan, and developed Hall of Fame running back Terrell Davis. Turner is the master of the classic under-center outside zone running scheme which the Shanahans have used for decades.
This offseason, after Turner stepped away from the team, the 49ers took their running game in a different direction under new running backs coach Anthony Lynn. Lynn has had lots of success with quarterback-driven running games, which is what the 49ers used when Trey Lance was the quarterback. With Lance on the field, the 49ers averaged a whopping 5.8 yards per carry. But since Garoppolo has returned, the 49ers are averaging just 3.3 yards per carry.
Enter: Bobby Turner.
If anyone can breathe life into the 49ers' running game, it's him. Because the past two games, it has seemed extremely stale and ineffective, with the exception of one 37-yard run. Perhaps Lynn doesn't know how to build an effective running game with Garoppolo at quarterback. Turner certainly does.
But can he do enough in the next few days to help the 49ers beat the Rams? Because if the 49ers lose this game, they'll be 1-3, and their season will be on life support. And if the 49ers can't run the ball effectively against the Rams, they'll lose.
So much depends on Bobby Turner right now.