Seattle Seahawks running back Thomas Rawls turned in a monster 30-carry, 209-yard performance Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers. With Marshawn Lynch's status (abdomen injury) in doubt, Rawls could be asked to carry the load going forward as the Seahawks attempt to go on a run.
With the help of ESPN Stats & Information, here are five numbers to know about Rawls.
4: The number of players who have 100 or more rushing attempts and are averaging at least 5.0 YPC. It's Rawls, St. Louis' Todd Gurley, Cincinnati's Giovani Bernard and Tampa's Doug Martin. Currently, only Buffalo's Karlos Williams (6.21) has a higher YPC average than Rawls (5.98). Rawls ranks 13th in the NFL in rushing with 604 yards. He would have to average 66 yards per game the rest of the way to hit the 1,000-yard mark as a rookie.
2.80: That's Rawls' average yards after contact. Not only does it lead all running backs in 2015, but if the number were to stand, it would be the highest average of any ball-carrier in the past three years. Rawls' 89 yards after contact Sunday were the most in the NFL. This is what coach Pete Carroll loves about Rawls. He seeks out contact and punishes defenders. Rawls said he'll never run out of bounds, and teammates such as safety Kam Chancellor talked about how his running style fires up the whole team. While the Seahawks' offensive line played well vs. the 49ers, it's important for them to have a back who can fight through tackles, because the blocking is not always going to be perfect.
6: The number of runs of 20-plus yards Rawls has totaled this season. Only four backs in the NFL have more, and Rawls has fewer carries than all of them. He's looked very good at the second level and in the open field. Rawls is averaging one explosive run every 16.8 attempts. As a point of reference, Lynch has averaged one explosive run every 48.9 attempts since the start of the 2014 season. Granted, Rawls has a smaller sample size and the 49ers do not have a good run defense, but he looks like he can be a home run hitter.
22: The number of running backs taken in the 2015 draft. Rawls, meanwhile, signed as an undrafted free agent.
"Seattle didn’t draft a running back -- I knew this team was full of [undrafted free agents]," Rawls said. "I knew Coach Carroll would possibly give me a chance to make the roster, and that’s all I did. I could have went anywhere, and I am glad I chose here because the organization and this team is so amazing. They let me be free. The coaching staff runs things the way I like. It’s good."
I asked Rawls to clarify, and he said the coaching style fits him. He said they don't do a lot of yelling and are almost always positive. Rawls pointed out that his confidence comes from practice, and that makes sense. Earlier this season, I remember trying to interview him in the locker room. He politely declined and said he was trying to get his mind right before practice. At the time, I thought it was kind of strange. But it makes more sense now.
3.18: Rawls' yards before contact this season. That number ranks fifth in the NFL. Yards before contact is a good measure of the back's vision and the line's blocking. What makes the number fascinating is that Lynch has averaged just 1.60 yards before contact, which ranks 48th. Many, including yours truly, have pointed to that number as an indictment of the line's blocking. And that's probably true to a degree. But it will be interesting to see if that number stays high for Rawls with more rushing attempts. I was talking to safety Earl Thomas about Rawls, and he said what he likes most about the rookie is his vision. He makes decisive cuts and gets upfield in a hurry, specifically on the Seahawks' wide zone running plays.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have the third-ranked rush defense, according to Football Outsiders. If Rawls starts next week, we should get more answers about what his true strengths are and what his ceiling might be.