Entering Thursday's 49ers-Seahawks, Marshawn Lynch was generally getting a bit more pub than Frank Gore. Although Gore is having a solid season, Lynch has always struck me as a bit more high profile with the media. He is a bit of an eccentric character and that often makes for better press.
Lynch has had the nickname Beast Mode for some time now, and he generally proves he is a beast. His ability to break tackles is as good as any running back in the NFL, and he has been a thorn in the 49ers side recently. He rushed for 103 yards on Thursday Night Football, becoming the first running back since 2006 with back-to-back 100 yard games against the 49ers.
And yet, it was Frank Gore who made arguably the bigger impact on Thursday. Gore finished the game with 131 yards on only 16 carries and thorough dominated the Seahawks defense. The Seahawks defense, particularly the rush defense, had been getting a lot of praise through the first six weeks. Frank Gore had his way with them and was as important as any offensive player on Thursday.
Delanie Walker had the best line about Frank Gore when discussing his work after the game:
You go into a game like this, you hear a lot about [Seahawks RB] Marshawn Lynch, beast mode and all that stuff. Then you look at [RB] Frank Gore at the end of the game, the one who's piling up the big numbers there.
"Well that's what Frank does. We always pound the ball with Frank. Sometimes we go away from it in different games, but when it's a tough game like this one we try to get Frank the ball because he's great at finding holes. He can run and pound the ball."
So if Lynch is beast mode, then what's Frank?
I do believe it is time to start working in #gorillamode for any Frank Gore tweets moving forward.
Gore spoke with the media after the game and when asked about his relatively limited number of touches, Gore just spoke about how he was just telling himself to be ready for when the coaches called his numbers. Gore rushed six times in the first half and ten times in the second half. He was also the team's leading receiver with five receptions for 51 yards.
The 49ers made some adjustments in the passing game and Gore benefited with the dump-offs in the second half. However, I continue to wonder what the deal was with the running game. On the opening drive, Gore rushed three times for 17 yards. He opened the drive with runs of seven and six yards. I realize the team can't run the ball every single play, but at some point, don't you decide to run Gore until the other team actually proves they can stop you?
There is a certain reactive nature to that, and I get wanting to mix things up to keep the defense on its toes. I get that. But after those first two runs, the 49ers ran an end around with Kyle Williams, a pass to Crabtree, a pass to Moss and an incomplete, before Gore touched the ball again.
The 49ers were making some ground as those three positive yardage plays gained a first down, and we are dealing with a lot of hindsight with this. Greg Roman and the offensive coaching staff seem like intelligent individuals. Since the staff won't discuss scheme and game-planning stuff, we are left to speculate.
Sometimes it reminds me of the line from Varsity Blues, "You got to be the dumbest smart kid I know." Frank Gore seems to be the easy answer a lot of the time, and yet we've seen stretches where the 49ers go away from him, and the run game in general. What gives?
We can only speculate on this topic given the lack of game-plan information, but I am curious why people think the team goes away from the run when it is having such success. Is it just trying to keep the team off balance? The coaching staff over-thinking things and out-smarting itself? Forgetting that Frank Gore plays for the 49ers and is the franchise's all-time leading rusher?
RB Frank Gore
Press Conference - October 18, 2012
San Francisco 49ers vs. Seattle Seahawks
Did you have the feeling that the game was going to be like this, where you get the ball a lot?
"I just felt like whenever my coach called my number, I tried my best. My o-line did a great job."
You left the field early, are you injured?
"I'll be alright. [Head] coach [Jim Harbaugh] just wanted to be smart. We've got a long season and a tough road down the stretch. We've got another division game. We wanted to be smart. We have other great backs, [RB] Kendall Hunter, [RB] Brandon Jacobs, [RB] Anthony Dixon who does positive things to help our team. He just wanted to be smart and I just listened to him."
"I kind of got speared, hit in the back on a check down back in the second quarter. It was a good hit, good play by Seattle."
Until the start of the second half, you hadn't been touching the ball a whole lot. Was it nice, you had 10 carries in the second half?
"I just told myself, when coach calls my number, I have to be ready. I just got in a rhythm. My o-line, the receivers did a great job blocking and I feel like once I get a rhythm, I can't be stopped."
A lot of those yards in the second half came right up the middle, how well were your interior lineman blocking today?
"They did a great job. Coach G-Ro [offensive coordinator Greg Roman] did a great job scheming them up. As long as everybody's on one page, we can do great things in the running game. I think playing with coach G-Ro for my second year, I think he's probably the best coordinator I've ever played with especially in the running game. He's a genius. We've just got to keep it up, as a team, as a unit. Just keep going."
Some of your offensive linemen last week in the locker room were saying that they really wanted to get that old school 49er football, power running game going. Did they talk to you about that, did you hear anyone discussing that?
"I'm going to go back to last week. I think we could have been in a game like this, like a 6-3 game, we could have done the same thing last week, but we kind of hurt ourselves last week. But this week, this Thursday night game, we were still in the game and had a chance to stay balanced on the offensive side of the ball. That's why I think we came out on top tonight."
Do you guys, when you play a Thursday night game, you only have three days in between. Can you feel it in the first quarter?
"Our coaches take care of us well, we did a lot of stuff during the week that didn't hurt our bodies. So we didn't care, especially coming off of that loss in a big game against the Giants, playing a divisional rival in Seattle who has a great team. We just wanted to come out on top and we did."
When you were breaking away in the second half on a couple of those runs, could you feel your back at all?
"Just when I was getting down and taking deep breaths, breathing hard. I just wanted to be smart. We've got depth at the position and my little brother Kendall, I know that he can make a big play anytime he's in. So, I'm comfortable with 32 in the game. I had to listen to my coaches and that's what I did."
Across the sidelines you have another great back, Marshawn Lynch, had a great game. Are you cognizant of what he's doing during the game, are you paying attention?
"I like Marshawn, he's a like a bulldog. Whenever two backs who are top guys in the league -you want to compete. I'm home and that's why I wasn't going to let him outdo me tonight. Our defense did a great job. He did a great job too. He's a great back, he's a hard-nosed back I respect. I'm just happy that we came out on top and we're No. 1 in the division right now."
How big is that, the fact that you guys now have that division lead? Is that fresh in your guys' minds?
"Always. Our goal is to win the division. Our first division game, we wanted to come out on top. We knew Seattle was going to come in and play us hard. We kept playing 49er ball and we won."
You said Greg Roman is a genius. Were you more impressed by his gameplan or his halftime adjustments?
"With everything. Coming into the game and knowing what we have to do. When we come out for the second half, he adjusts to it. Like I said earlier, and I've played with some great coordinators, Norv Turner, but I think coach G-Ro is probably the best right now."