Frank Gore started out the 2011 campaign with a chip on his shoulders, entering his contract year he wanted a new long term deal from the 49ers. Gore sat out 3 days of training camp in protest and even voiced concerns over his preseason workload. Gore also admitted his frustrations to the media, the situation was clearly on his mind. Gore looked mostly sluggish in limited pre season work while the 49ers other running backs Kendall Hunter especially shined.
The season’s first 3 weeks weren’t kind to Gore either as he managed less than 3 yards per carry and failed to surpass even 60 yards in any game. Week 3 in Cincinnati saw rookie Kendall Hunter inserted into the game over Gore who rushed for a key Touchdown that put the 49ers over the top.
Whispers about Gore losing a step, losing his burst through the holes, had the toll of several injuries and 6 years of being the 49ers bell cow slowed Gore down at 28 for good? It seemed to many that legitimate concerns of Frank Gore’s ability existed. Well my friends like I told you it would ,that seems like a distant memory, in the NFL 2 weeks just about qualifies as ancient history, Frank Gore is back.
Gore didn’t even start week 4 at Philadelphia and I speculate that was a chess move by Harbaugh to make the opposition believe Gore was hurt more than he really was while the plan was to utilize both he and Hunter throughout the game anyway. Gore looked explosive and dominate especially in the power game in Philly, nobody could stop him which couldn’t have been more evident as he carried Asante Samuel 12 yards for the game winning score. Gore wasn’t just good, he was dominating on just 15 carries Gore ripped the Eagles for 125 yards that’s 8.5 yards per carry.
At home against the Bucs I would argue that Gore was even better. His stats 20 carries/127 yards/6.3 yards per carry/TD were in classic Gore fashion. The power was almost exclusively what the 49ers used Gore for against the Eagles and it worked over and over again. Against the Bucs the 49ers used more counters, sweeps and misdirection runs with Gore in the game than they have anytime yet this season, no matter what run the 49ers dialed up, Gore ran it effectively.
Frank’s vision and burst was on display Sunday all afternoon, Gore one of the more patient rushers in the NFL looked like a true master of his craft on occasions Sunday waiting on the play to develop, pointing out assignments to his blockers and BOOM hitting the hole with explosion. For anyone speculating that Gore lost his speed and quickness, watch the tape of the Bucs game and come talk to me.
Over the last 2 games Gore has proved that he not only has the power and strength to grind it out in the Harbaugh power run game but also still has the speed and cut back ability to allow Harbaugh full flexibility when calling the run. With a potent tandem like Gore/Hunter the 49ers have options in the run game and enough talent in the backfield to give Gore strategic rests every week to better preserve him from injury and fatigue. After averaging 2.5 yards per attempt in his first three games, Gore is now eighth in the NFL with 400 yards on 94 rush attempts for a 4.3-yard average.
The next step that I’d like to see in the 49ers offense is more packages that feature both Gore and Hunter in the game at the same time. With the rash of injuries at the WR position the team needs to find ways to getting the best playmakers on the field as often as possible. That lists now with Joshua Morgan out of the lineup has to include both Gore and Hunter.
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