Frank Gore has undoubtedly surpassed expectations this season. Getting up there in dog years and playing with a dual-threat quarterback, many expected his yardage and scoring to sharply decline. That obviously hasn’t been the case, as Gore has rushed for 748 yards and seven touchdowns thus far. It’s also possible that he could have had much more by now if he hadn’t been under-utilized earlier in the season.
Despite the fact that he’s pretty much running as well as ever, the San Francisco 49ers have irresponsibly allowed him to fall out of the game plan at times.
It happened just last week when the 49ers took on the New Orleans Saints. The Saints haven’t been particularly adept at stopping the run this season, and they certainly haven’t been nearly as good against the run as they have against the pass. It’s a big mystery then as to why Gore only got 13 carries in that game, especially since it was close. He barely got the ball in the fourth quarter, a huge mistake on the part of the coaches. The result was a measly 5.6 fantasy points for Gore and a loss for San Francisco.
Things should be a little different this week when the Niners take on the Washington Redskins. The Redskins’ defense has been terrible this season and although it’s improved somewhat recently, I still wouldn’t venture to say it’s any good. It gave up 150 total yards and two touchdowns to LeSean McCoy last week and another two touchdowns to Adrian Peterson the week before.
Granted, those are arguably the two best running backs in the league but even so, good defenses don’t give up numbers like that. Improved or not, the Redskins’ defense is a long way from shutting down any opponents.
The Niners know they need to ride Gore in most games if they want to win, so look for them to renew their commitment to the run this week. I’m pretty sure I said the same thing last week and obviously I was wrong, but it would be completely shocking and ridiculous if Jim Harbaugh didn’t make the obvious correction to his offense for the second game in a row. I just can’t see that happening, so start Gore with confidence.
Needing a win badly, the 49ers will go back to what’s brought them success in the past — smash-mouth football.