San Francisco’s starting running back averaged over 8 yards per carry yesterday, yet they lost 43-17. You wouldn’t think that would be something that was even possible.

Yet that’s what happened. They gave up too many big plays and key plays on defense. Jimmy Garoppolo doesn’t seem to have any confidence (or accuracy). The offensive line wasn’t good enough yesterday, contributing to Garoppolo get clobbered on a handful of plays before they mercifully pulled him at halftime.

Yet there was Raheem Mostert, carrying 11 times for 90 yards, consistently picking up good chunks of yardage. With the success he was having on the ground, you would have thought the game would have been a lot closer.

I looked into this using the game sort tools that are available at I wanted to see if this had ever been done before. I was surprised to see it’s a lot more common than I thought.

Over 200 times in the Super Bowl era (about 4 times per year) a team losing despite having a player with double-digit carries averaging over 8 yards per carry. And 39 times a team has lost by over 20 points with such a player.

It happened only once in the 2019 season, and it oddly was on the same field (with Christian McCaffrey busting a couple of long runs for Carolina). It got turned around on the 49ers this time.

YearPlayerOppResultAttYardsAvgTDLost by
2011Delone Carter, N.O.L 7-6210898.9155
1980Lawrence McCutcheon, Dall.L 7-5111958.6044
1968Max Anderson, Buff.Oak.L 6-4811888.0042
2019Christian McCaffrey, S.F.L 13-51141178.4138
2011Fred Jackson, Dall.L 7-44131148.8037
2010Tim Hightower, Atl.L 7-411111510.5134
1971O.J. Simpson, Mia.L 0-3410909.0034
1978Greg Pruitt, Cin.L 16-48221828.3132
2004Kevin Jones, Det.Ind.L 9-4112998.3032
2002Richard Huntley, Car.N.E.L 6-38211688.0032
2006Frank Gore, Chi.L 10-41121119.3031
2012Chris Johnson, Ten.Chi.L 20-51161418.8131
2017LeSean McCoy, LACL 24-54131148.8130
1998Corey Dillon, Ten.L 14-44141248.9130
2013Terrelle Pryor, Oak.Phil.L 20-4910949.4029
2009Knowshon Moreno, Den.S.D.L 3-3210808.0029
1979Ricky Bell, T.B.N.O.L 14-421010110.1028
2002James Stewart, G.B.L 14-40151228.1026
1999Duce Staley, Car.L 7-33171408.2126
2000Raheem Mostert, S.F.Mia.L 17-4311908.2026
2006Julius Jones, Dall.N.O.L 17-421011611.6125
2018Kalen Ballage, Min.L 17-411212310.3124
1981Curtis Dickey, Balt.Dall.L 13-37151308.7224
2012Jamaal Charles, Clev.L 7-30181659.2123
1978Greg Pruitt, Sea.L 24-47121139.4023
2001Troy Hambrick, Phil.L 18-401010710.7022
1975Delvin Williams, Atl.L 9-311010410.4122
1966Paul Lowe, S.D.Oak.L 19-411012512.5022
2008Derrick Ward, NYGat Clev.L 14-351010110.1021
1979Pete Johnson, Hou.L 21-42141138.1121
1975Greg Pruitt, Oak.L 17-38121038.6121
1968Paul Robinson, Oak.L 10-31171599.4121
2018Saquon Barkley, NYGPhil.L 13-341313010.0121
2002Marcel Shipp, Ariz.Oak.L 20-41161358.4121
1999Charlie Garner, S.F.Pitt.L 6-27201668.3021
1968Earl Gros, Pitt.Clev.L 24-45131098.4021
2012C.J. Spiller, NYJL 28-481416912.1120
1972Art Malone, S.F.L 0-2010919.1020
1976Clark Gaines, NYJBalt.L 0-20121028.5020

—Ian Allan