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Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman struggling vs. run?

Greg Cosell of NFL Films and the "NFL Matchup" show is one of our favorite analysts. That's why his assessment of the San Francisco 49ers' run defense was so eye-opening.

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"We can start by throwing out a few numbers," Cosell told KNBR-AM on Thursday, via The Press Democrat. "If you subtract the Arizona game -- Arizona's not a very good offense -- they played in the other three games (against) New York (Giants), Seattle and St. Louis. In those three games, they've given up an average of 148 yards rushing per game, and they've given up 12 runs of 10-plus yards in those three games. That's not the 49ers defense we've come to expect."

It's hard to argue with the numbers. The 49ers are one of the best teams in the NFL, but it has been alarming to see them give up so many long drives, like they did in the loss at Minnesota. Steven Jackson was effective against them last week. The front seven remains the strength of the 49ers, but they haven't been quite as good as they were a year ago.

"It might be blasphemous, but I think (Patrick) Willis and (NaVorro) Bowman have not played as well of late in the run game," Cossell continued. "I think they're playing a little too laterally as opposed to playing downhill with the aggression that we've come to expect."

Knowing Jim Harbaugh, these quotes probably will be relayed to his team for motivation when he returns from his recent procedure.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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