Originally posted by matt49er:
Less Frank Gore: Like many, I say this every single year, we need to see less Frank Gore. Not because I don't love Gore, or that I don't think he's great, because I do. We need more diversity in the run game and we need to save Frankie G more for the playoff run. The problem, we haven't had a backup that didn't telegraph what we were doing if we brought that guy in and took FG out. You know Hunter or LMJ aren't going to power between the tackles like Gore, if they get the ball, they are probably going outside and you just can't tip off NFL defenses like that. Now, with Lattimore ready to take the field and Hyde coming into the fold (not to mention Hunter probably being more explosive more than a full year after his ACL surgery) the running game finally has not 2, but 3 guys you can put in the game with the same look. Don't get me wrong here, Gore will still lead this team in carries & rushing yards, likely rushing TDs also & although I see the offense evolving a great deal, no way Harbaugh/Roman abandon the power running game & they shouldn't. The 49ers are awesome at the power running game & it will remain a big part of the offense, the big difference is now we have 3 guys to run it, not just one.
I know you made a lot of points, most of which are valid predictions. I'm going to pick on this one. While we will see less of Gore, I believe that part of season-long struggles against good defenses was the lack of a commitment to get the running backs involved. Rushing the ball effectively and using screen and short outlet passes are crucial to keep a defense off-balance. Kaepernick tends to hold onto the ball too long, even when receivers and backs are open underneath. Specifically, when Frank Gore is open underneath, Kaepernick often looks past him and only comes back to pass if he's about to get sacked. Kendall Hunter and LMJ are completely underutilized in this regard. Hunter is great at stretching short passes into 15-20 yard gains, and I suspect LMJ can probably do a similar job.
I don't like seeing our offense put so much on Kaepernick's shoulders. He hasn't shown the ability to get passes out quickly and distribute passes to all corners of the field. Even with a lot of receiving options, the identity of the Singletary/Harbaugh 49ers was built on sustaining long drives with a strong rushing attack and an excellent rushing defense that can cause turnovers and tackle very well. So most teams can't rush the ball on us and run out the clock. If we suddenly turn into a quick strike offense, whenever we got 3 and out, it will put a strain on our defense, who will be out on the field longer...leading to more injuries and fatigue. This has already been somewhat of an issue since Kaepernick took over the offense. When he's hot, he's hot, when he's cold, he goes 3 and out like the best (worst) of them.
The more we let Kaepernick sit back in the pocket, the more risk we put him in of taking a big blindside hit. Take the pressure off him and keep defenses honest by staying committed to the rushing game. Michael Vick came into this league in a similar fashion to Kaepernick. A rushing QB that could also throw. Eventually, defenses were better prepared for him, and his numbers declined steadily each year. Kaepernick needs to work more with his teammates and play less like a basketball ballhogging star like Kobe Bryant.