The San Francisco 49ers wouldn't have beat the Arizona Cardinals if tight end Vernon Davis didn't have a huge game. This much is basically an indisputable point, but it's also worth noting that without running back Frank Gore and his 25 carries for 101 yards, the 49ers might not have been in position to win, either.
Gore has come on strong over the past couple weeks, and is a large reason for San Francisco's success. The 49ers have the No. 4 rushing offense in the NFL, at 141.7 rushing yards per game on average. Heading into this matchup against the Tennessee Titans, it will likely be more of the same, despite all the talk about Colin Kaepernick Anquan Boldin and Davis.
Tennessee has the No. 19 rushing defense in the NFL, allowing 111.2 rushing yards per game on average. But there's a lot more to their poor defensive play when it comes to stopping the run, so we turn to an old favorite here at Niners Nation: Football Outsiders.
In their defensive efficiency ratings, the Titans score high marks with their pass defense, ranked No. 8 in the league. They have an efficiency rating of -6.2 percent -- a negative number is preferred here. The top team is pass rank is Kansas City, with a -38.8 percent rating. So you can see where that's going. For an explanation on DVOA -- defensive-adjusted value over average -- click here.
But back to their efficiency ratings. The Titans come in at No. 11 overall thanks to that strong pass defense (which will have its hands full against Davis on Sunday), but their rush defense is a little less than stellar. Tennessee ranks No. 20 in rush defense efficiency at -5.6 percent.
Going further, Football Outsiders has some very thorough defensive line rankings, based on adjusted line yards. You can read up on what exactly that means, but it breaks down simply as this: the Titans end up ranked No. 30 after all the stats are added up. They have a low rate of stuffing running backs -- a problem with Gore at times -- at 16 percent (No. 26 in the league), a poor track record when it comes to allowing yards in the open field (No. 17 in the league) and allow many yards into the second level No. 29 in the league).
Finding a hole, following his blockers and breaking into that next level is what Gore does the best. He's one of those little guys that the defense loses and he makes them pay for it. The Titans have been susceptible to his style of play this season, and we might see Gore break off one or two of his patented big gains on Sunday.
Works for me!