In Thursday night’s win over the Seahawks, 49ers running back Frank Gore injured his ribs while rushing for 131 yards. At Niners practice on Monday Gore fully participated and is expected to play on Monday Night Football despite the injury. However, it should be noted while he took part in practice there was no contact for him.
The 49ers have 11 days between last week’s win and the game on Monday Night Football, so Gore has time to rest and heal. He bruised his ribs in the second quarter after catching a short pass and he was hit from behind by Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner. Gore played the rest of the game despite his bruised ribs, but you could tell he was hurting.
Gore is the heart and soul of the 49ers offense and losing him for any game would be huge. Against division rivals Arizona Cardinals, and on Monday Night Football, the running back has had some of his biggest games of his career. Last season, Gore had 160 rushing yards and one touchdown on 34 carries in two games against the Cardinals.
Each season Gore’s health becomes an issue at some point for the 49ers. This has more to do with his running style and the amount of carries over a season, rather than him being soft and injury prone. His workload has gone down from 146 carries last season compared to 103 carries this season through week 7. His production has not taken a considerable hit with the less carries as he has 601 rushing yards this season compared to 669 yards at this point last season. He is tied for 13th in the NFL in number of carries this season.
A few reasons for Gore having 43 less carries has to do with the 49ers passing more and second-year backup Kendall Hunter being more involved in the offense. Hunter has proven to be an effective replacement averaging 5.2 yards per carry on 50 rushes for 258 yards. Still, Gore needs to reduce his amount of carries in order to survive a full season and it will be interesting to see how the Niners handle his workload the rest of the year.
Last week Brandon Jacobs, who has been injured all season, was in uniform for the first time, however, he did not play. When he becomes healthy and effective for the 49ers it will be a boost for Gore and the rushing attack. Gore and Hunter have shown to be a great combination this season which explains why Jacobs (in addition to him being injured) and LaMichael James have been inactive for so many games this season. With Jacobs suiting up last week and looking ready to play, Jim Harbaugh would probably like to ease him back onto the field because of his injury and to not disrupt the tandem of Gore and Hunter.
With Gore suffering a bruised rib last week, Harbaugh might be forced to use Jacobs earlier and more than he anticipated. Even though it was the preseason, Jacobs was plowing all over defenses and I believe he would give the 49ers offense a really good third option at running back.
Frank Gore on his injury:
Just taking it one day at a time. But I feel good. I should be all right. Little moments here and there (feeling pain). When I first did it, it was constant. Every time I breathed, I could feel it. I feel a lot better.