Coach Chip Kelly’s fast-paced high-tempo offense did not dramatically change the workload for either side of the ball in his first season with the 49ers.
Kelly admittedly dialed back the speed with which his offense played this season – presumably so the abundance of three-and-outs would give his defense a little more recovery time on the sideline.
As a result, the 49ers’ defense is playing only 1.5 snaps per game more than it did a year ago. This year, the 49ers’ defense has been on the field for an average of 69.1 plays per game. In 2015, the 49ers’ defense was on the field for 67.6 snaps a game.
Through 15 games this season, the 49ers’ offense averaged 62.6 plays per game and a time of possession of 26 minutes, 30 seconds per game.
Last season under head coach Jim Tomsula and offensive coordinator Geep Chryst, the 49ers averaged 60.6 plays per game and a time of possession of 26:20.
This season, the 49ers have been more effective running the ball. Carlos Hyde appeared in 13 games and rushed for 988 yards before leaving in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game against the Los Angeles Rams with a knee injury that is expected to sideline him for the season finale.
With Hyde available for just seven games in 2015, the 49ers rushed for 1,544 yards as a team. The 49ers have 1,957 yards rushing this season entering Sunday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks at Levi’s Stadium.
Another noticeable difference has been on third downs. The 49ers ranked 31st in the league, converting just 30.5 percent of their third downs in 2015. This year, the 49ers have improved to 36 percent on third downs -- but still rank 25th in the NFL.