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Those whispers. We heard them after the first two games of the season, and they are starting again. Is Frank Gore wearing down? He is 30 years old after all and doesn't look as explosive as he did in the past they say. His legs are shot, that he's only been able to average 1.5 yards per carry after contact these last two weeks proves that they reason.
Gore got off to a rough start this season when Green Bay and Seattle held him to only 2 yards per carry in the first two weeks of the season. He followed that up by averaging 4.85 yards per carry over the next 7 games, but after gaining only 3 yards per carry against New Orleans and Washington the question has come up again.
Is Gore wearing down? To those who think so I say turn on the tape and watch what is happening in front of him. The first thing they will see are opponents selling out to stop the run. They have noticed the 49ers struggles with the pass and are loading up the line of scrimmage daring the 49ers to try and beat them through the air. New Orleans got away with it, but Washington wasn't as fortunate.
The second thing they will see is that the offensive line has been going through some struggles of their own. After the loss to New Orleans, right guard Alex Boone went onto his weekly radio interview on KNBR with Murph and Mac and said it about as good as anyone could say, "It's frustrating watching the film because if we all just make our blocks you can see the run for Frank." Don't forget, although he is 30 Gore is second in the league in runs over 20 yards with 8 this season, and his average yards per carry of 4.2 is still above what he averaged 2 years ago.
When looking at the film of the game against Washington it jumped out that Boone had nailed it. On one play it's Bruce Miller, the next one it is Vance McDonald, then it is Vernon Davis and Anthony Davis missing their blocks and shutting the play down for a loss or minimal gain.
It wasn't all bad on Monday night though. Despite the difficult sledding in the run game the 49ers stuck with it in the first half to keep their offense balanced with 11 runs to 12 passes and a 10-6 lead. Sticking with it throughout the first half allowed them to open up the play calling in the second half leading to a number of big plays in the passing game off of play action and a much needed 27-6 win.
As the passing game continues to improve, and it should with Michael Crabtree coming back to the lineup on Sunday look for Gore to find a bit more space to run, and for those whispers to fade away.
Take a look at the film from Monday night and see for yourself: http://ninerchatter.blogspot.com/2013/11/is-frank-gore-wearing-down.html
Jack Hammer is the writer for NinerChatter : ninerchatter.blogspot.com