Photo by Kirby Lee of USA Today Sports

Photo by Kirby Lee of USA Today Sports


3 Reasons Why Gore Could Have Best Season in 2013

Aug 16, 2013 at 5:30 PM


One of the many questions heading into the San Francisco 49er's 2013 season is how productive running back Frank Gore will be. Gore turned 30 in May, a number that often marks the beginning of the end for a tailback. Along with this, fellow running backs LaMichael James and Kendall Hunter have spent most of their young careers in Gore's shadow, and appear ready to compete for the spotlight. Factor in the quick legs and strong arm of quarterback Colin Kaepernick and Gore's statistical contributions seem even more limited.

But Gore isn't a stranger to adversity. After sustaining multiple knee injuries in college and dropping to the third round of the 2005 draft, Gore has proved his doubters wrong by staying healthy and maintaining a high-level of production late into his career. Now, with a new season approaching, Gore has another chance to prove his critics wrong by having one of his best statistical seasons yet – putting up similar numbers to his 2006 campaign, when he gained 1,695 rushing yards, 485 receiving yards, and scored nine touchdowns.

With a little help from ESPN's Stats and Information, here are three reasons why 2013 could be Gore's best season ever:

1) The Forgotten Wide Receiver

The 49ers are a week into the preseason and no wide receiver has stepped up to take the starting spot opposite Anquan Boldin. As The Press Democrat's Grant Cohn reported earlier this week, the 49ers have been working tight-end Vernon Davis into the passing game as one potential solution. Second round tight-end Vance McDonald has also shown promise as a big-bodied target for Kaepernick. But there's one person who has flown under the radar as a receiving threat.

Flash back to the pre-Harbaugh era. According to ESPN, Gore averaged 74 targets between 2006-2010 in the regular season, and amassed 255 receptions for 2,152 yards. During this time he was one of the teams most electrifying receivers, finishing in the top-three for receptions each year and leading the team twice.

Harbaugh has taken a different approach with Gore, keeping him busy on the ground. But as a coach who is known for maximizing the potential of his players, don't be surprised if you see Gore featured more in the passing game, especially if the 49ers don't find a strong receiver to complement Boldin.

2) A Healthy Dosage of Smash-Mouth Football

Despite having a crowded backfield for the past two seasons, Gore hasn't received a lighter workload. In fact, he's gotten the ball even more. In 2011, Gore carried the ball 282 times during the regular season – the second most attempts in his career. He followed up with 258 carries in 2012, his third most attempts.

One of the reasons for Gore's increased workload can be attributed to longevity. He played all 16 games in 2011 and 2012. It would seem that having a pair of shifty, change-of-pace backs to spell Gore has helped him stay healthy and productive, playing throughout the season and into the playoffs.

What's more, the 49ers' smash-mouth running philosophy produces enough carries to go around. The 49ers ran the ball an average of 495 times between 2011 and 2012, as opposed to an average of 393 times between 2006–2010. Don't expect this to change much in 2013, even with Kaepernick at the helm.

3) A Defense's Worst Nightmare – Colin Kaepernick

You might scratch your head at this one. The read option has become a significant part of the 49ers' offense, right? So what's to stop the Kaepernick from crossing the pylons instead of Gore?

This is a fair question, but consider this: when has Gore ever played a full season with such a dynamic offense? It's safe to say that prior to Kaepernick's emergence, most opposing defenses had been developing their game plans with Gore in mind – crowding the box and putting pressure on Alex Smith. Entering his first full season as the undisputed starter, Kaepernick will be able to relieve Gore of that responsibility, as defenses try to find a way to stop the explosive quarterback from breaking out of the pocket and making plays.

But what about Kaepernick stealing some of Gore's carries with the read option? Well, you might just be surprised to learn how little the quarterback actually ran during those plays. Mike Sando of ESPN reported that Kaepernick elected to take the ball a whopping 12 times. While he certainly left a strong impression on all of us (and his opponents), it's unlikely that Gore is losing any sleep over the read option.

The odds are still against Gore. After all, few running backs have been productive into their 30s. Many have experienced a swift and steep decline. Even so, don't rule Frank Gore out just yet. He might have enough gas in the tank to torch the field one more time as he races towards his first Super Bowl ring.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


0 Comments

  • No Comments

Facebook Comments



More San Francisco 49ers News



Baldinger explains why 49ers' Kyle Shanahan should have challenged the catch vs. Eagles

By David Bonilla
Jan 31

It wasn't a catch. We learned that soon after the Philadelphia Eagles quickly got back to the line of scrimmage and ran another play, after which the San Francisco 49ers could do nothing. In what looked like an amazing one-handed leaping grab by DeVonta Smith, replays showed that the Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver failed to maintain possession. Many feel that, in the end, it would not have mattered. The Eagles ended up winning the NFC Championship Game 31-7. Maybe it would have mattered, though. Who knows what would have happened had officials overturned that play call? The drive would have ended because it was a 29-yard catch



49ers vs. Cowboys offensive grades: Why did the offense struggle?

By Rohan Chakravarthi
Jan 24

The San Francisco 49ers eliminated the Dallas Cowboys for the second consecutive postseason, this time by a score of 19-12 to advance to the NFC Championship Game, where they'll face off against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. The 49ers faced their share of offensive struggles, but ultimately gained enough momentum in the second half to defeat the Cowboys, who only led for just under six total minutes in the entire game. Here are the offensive grades for the 49ers against the Cowboys. [video][/video] Quarterback:



Podcast: Why Rohan Chakravarthi predicts the Eagles to beat the 49ers

By Rohan Chakravarthi
Jan 28

Rohan Chakravarthi and Chris Polo preview the NFC Championship game between the 49ers and the Eagles. The Niners are back in the NFC title game for the second straight season. How can they make it back to the Super Bowl? The audio for the show is embedded above, while the video is available



Why the 49ers Worry Me Ahead of the NFC Championship Game

By JD Salazar
Jan 28

This is something special. You can already feel it in the air. This weekend, with the scope of the NFL season boiled down to two games, there's no hint of fraudulence left. There's no frisky underdog just hoping to make some noise. On Sunday, we're going to witness two heavyweight fights, one juggernaut against another for control of each conference, no love lost between the contestants. It's gonna be fun. But with the stakes raised as high as they are, the buoyant enthusiasm that permeates a winning season has vanished. It's been boiled away by the crucible of postseason pressure. Lose tomorrow, and there is no more football this season. No more chances for a special iteration of a storied team. An offseason into the howling dark of frustration and


Featured

More by Benjamin Bradley

More Articles

Share 49ersWebzone