Suspension could help Rams, 49ers early

Mikel Leshoure's two-game suspension from the Detroit Lions takes him off the field for games against the St. Louis Rams and San Francisco 49ers.

The second-year running back missed the 2011 season with an injury, but he's expected to start in 2012. The Lions open at home against the Rams before traveling to face the 49ers.

Jahvid Best could be the starter in Leshoure's absence. He would face a revamped Rams run defense expecting to show significant improvement from last season. Best would then face one of the toughest matchups for any running back.

Best suffered a concussion against the 49ers last season. San Francisco's run defense generally dominated, allowing only three rushing touchdowns all season. The 49ers also left several backs hurting, as the chart shows.

2011 49ers Defense vs. Starting Running Backs