On Saturday morning I posted a link to SI.com's interview with Frank Gore in which he discussed a variety of topics heading into the 2011 season. In the interview he indicated his hip was feeling great and he was looking forward to getting back on the field. He also discussed how he thinks he'll fit into the Jim Harbaugh offense and he was excited about the possibilities:
He told me that before I left to make sure that I'm in great shape after the lockout because he'll be counting on me this year. He also told me the way he's going to use me and show the whole world that I'm the best back in the league ... It's not that my running style will change. He's just going to get me catching the ball more and getting me a lot of space. He'll be doing a lot of different things instead of the eight or nine men in the box. He's just trying to get the box loosened up for me.
In a follow-up to that SI.com piece Eric Branch mentioned how Mike Singletary was criticized not only for his vocal comments about running right at opposing defenses but also for potentially working Gore a little too hard. Gore has only had one season in which he played all 16 games, which was his record-setting 2006 season.
The last two seasons have seen Gore go down with some tough injuries and miss the longest stretches of his career. In 2009 he missed two games right around the bye week. Last season he missed the final five games of the season after suffering a non-displaced fracture in his hip.
Will we see changes in the way Gore is used in 2011 that could keep him a bit healthier? Or were the injuries the last two seasons more coincidental in their timing and it doesn't matter one way or the other? I guess I'm asking if blame lies with Singletary's use of Gore the last couple seasons. It seems logical that fewer defenders in the box would create more space, but I don't know if that necessarily translates to a healthier Gore.