49ers now leaning to the left side

The 49ers expected the left side of their offensive line to be the strength of the team, but it hasn't been until the past couple weeks, when left tackle Jonas Jennings and left guard Larry Allen have both been healthy, and the team has gotten some dominating blocking while leaning to the left side.

But just when they were starting to do some damage, the injury-plagued Jennings went down with a left ankle sprain in the closing seconds of the 49ers' victory over the Seahawks last week. He did not practice Wednesday and Thursday, but returned to practice Friday and was upgraded from questionable to probably on the injury report after going through the workout with no apparent problems.

If Jennings has any recurring problems, Adam Snyder would be ready to fill in and provide quality performance. Snyder, a second-year veteran, has one start at left tackle this year and also started three games at left guard in place of Allen, who sprained his knee early in the season opener and missed the next five games.

Jennings and Allen helped lead the way last week for running back Frank Gore's 212-yard performance against the Seahawks. Their combined 650 pounds (and perhaps more) generally creates a good push for the offensive line on plays run to their side.

"It's just fun to be playing when the team is flowing like that," Jennings said. "There's nonverbal communication between me and Larry. We know what's going to happen. We can run on anybody. That's just part of our formula, and we believe in Frank."

Coach Mike Nolan stated from the first day he got to the 49ers that he expected the club to be a running team.

"For us to do that, we needed to bring in guys who can control the line of scrimmage," 49ers personnel chief Scot McCloughan said. "A guy like Larry Allen is all power."

Jennings and Allen have played only four full games together, as both have been plagued by injuries. After his long layoff, however, Allen has rounded into shape in the past two games. The 10-tiime Pro Bowler has continued to assert himself as one of the NFL's best run blockers, though he's not at that level as a pass blocker.

"With Larry being healthy and Jonas being healthy, they're two quality offensive linemen," McCloughan said. "There's no reason we shouldn't be able to run behind them."

The 49ers would like to continue to build on that chemistry Sunday against the Rams in St. Louis. The 49ers, who have rushed for 460 yards in their past two games, have climbed to sixth in the NFL rankings in run offense.

In their 20-13 victory over the Rams in Week 2, the 49ers rushed for 127 net yards on the ground with Gore setting his career high with 127 yards on a career-high 29 carries. Since then, Gore has broken his career-high yardage total three times with 134 in Week 5 against Oakland, 159 in Week 10 at Detroit and then last week's outburst against the Seahawks.

The Niners are 5-0 when Gore has at least 19 carries, and he needed only 22 last week during his record day, when the 49ers finished with 262 yards on the ground, the eighth-highest total in franchise history.

The Rams' beleaguered run defense, meanwhile, is next-to-worst in the NFL, allowing seven 100-yard games. The Rams are allowing an NFC-worst 153.2 yards on the ground.

Stars like Larry Johnson, Gore and LaDainian Tomlinson - currently the NFL's three leading rushers - have found lots and lots of holes, as well as lesser lights such as Maurice Morris and Noah Herron.

Last week, the Panthers totaled 242 yards rushing and had seven plays of 10 or more yards.

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