Frank Gore has long been the cornerstone of the San Francisco 49ers franchise, but in a game of this magnitude the 49ers need to limit Gore’s touches in order to maximize his value. Gore is a workhorse running back with power and brute strength that intimidates most defenses, but a trip to Seattle will require a more finesse running back. Gore should still be utilized in the game against the Seattle Seahawks at key moments, but an increase in the workload for Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James will set up Gore for success against the Seahawks’ menacing defense.
While Gore is averaging 4.1 yards per carry this season, Hunter is averaging 4.6 yards per carry. Hunter’s speed and elusiveness is a good complement to Gore’s bruising between the tackles power, but the backs’ contrasting styles have been underutilized this season. Gore has almost four times as many carries as Hunter, and that has undoubtedly taken a toll on the veteran. Hunter’s increased workload would not be an indictment on Gore’s ability but rather a change of pace that would greatly benefit the 49ers’ offense in such a big game.
Gore’s struggles in Seattle should urge the 49ers to limit his touches to important carries and let Hunter take at least half of the snaps in the game. Gore has accumulated 58 total yards in the last two trips to Seattle which has created some concern around 49ers nation leading up to this week’s game. Hunter should be utilized throughout the game as the speed back and serve as a more viable target in the short passing game which could greatly aid quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
The 49ers should use Hunter not only to spell Gore, but San Francisco should make Hunter a focal point in the offense against Seattle. If Hunter produces a good performance and saves Gore’s energy for red zone touches, the 49ers will have a great chance of coming out of Seattle with a win and a ticket to the Super Bowl.
Greg Douglas is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on twitter @thegpd93 or add him to your Google Network