The media just can’t get enough of Colin Kaepernick these days, and that’s for good reason, but he is not the heart of the San Francisco 49ers‘ offense just yet. That title still belongs to Frank Gore, the leading rusher in franchise history.
When San Fran storms the field for Super Bowl XLVII Sunday to face the Baltimore Ravens, Gore must be the focal point of the offense, not Kaepernick. The main reason as to why that should be the case is because the Niners are practically unbeatable when they feed No. 21 a hearty helping of pigskin on Sundays.
It was the case in 2012 and, quite honestly, has been for years. Don’t get me wrong, Kaepernick’s performance will undoubtedly have a great effect on the outcome of the game. That’s a given considering the magnitude of a QB’s responsibilities in any ball game.
But the truth is, the 49ers’ offense goes as Frank Gore goes. The young signal-caller would be wise to let his veteran running back do as much of the dirty work as possible.
Since Jim Harbaugh took over as head coach prior to the 2011 season, the 49ers are 9-0 when Gore rushes for 100 yards or more. They own a baffling record of 16-0-1 when he goes for 80 or more.
A record of 16-0-1 (playoffs included) when Gore runs for 80 yards or more? The guy can do that with his eyes closed, especially behind the behemoths the 49ers have up front. Listen, Jim, if you want to beat your brother and this Baltimore squad, just get the ball into Gore’s hands, OK?
That’s not to say SF has no shot of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy if Gore doesn’t get his fair share of touches. This team has proven to be capable of winning games many different ways on several occasions.
Still, over the past two years, the Niners have not lost a single game in regulation (two OT losses) when Gore gets at least 20 carries in the game. He’s sure-handed, possesses an amazing level of vision and patience and often times actually improves as the game wears on.
When you’re playing for all the marbles, you might as well bust out the recipe for success that almost never fails.
Sure, Gore’s got some wear and tear at this point in his career, but this isn’t the regular season. There’s no more saving his legs for a lengthy playoff run. This is the Super Bowl. Come Feb. 3, his legs will have had two full weeks of rest.
Feed that man the football.
In fact, San Fran is worse off when it doesn’t get Gore the ball. In the 49ers four losses this season, he’s carried the rock only 49 times for an average of 12.25 rushes per game. That’s a far cry from 20 carries a game.
Looking at the numbers, this team is nearly a lock to win any game in which Gore receives 20 carries. Clearly, the Red and Gold also stand a much better chance of losing when they stray from the running game.
So, while Kaepernick is an extremely impressive and dangerous dual-threat option at QB, he is still extremely raw and his dynamic skill set should be used in this game to complement Gore (and even rookie RB LaMichael James) rather than to do all the heavy lifting.
Frank Gore can do that. He loves having the weight of the world on his battle-tested shoulders. One can only assume he would be honored to do it in the biggest game of his football career.