Frank Gore, 49ers running game continues struggles with Seahawks' No. 1 pass defense looming

Stephen Lam

The San Francisco 49ers need to get the running game back on track, and sooner is better than later with the Seattle Seahawks coming to town.

The San Francisco 49ers are still near the top of the league when it comes to running the football, but over the past few weeks, it hasn't exactly looked that way. Gore is having a productive season, and is well on his way to his seventh season of 1,000-plus rushing yards, but his average has steadily dropped in recent weeks.

From Week 3 through Week 10, Gore rushed for no less than 70 yards in each game. Over that time, he also put up six touchdowns. That included a 20-carry, 153-yard performance against the St. Louis Rams on Sept. 26.

Unfortunately, Gore wasn't able to replicate his success in Week 13. Gore carried just 15 times for 42 yards and a touchdown, with a per-carry average of just 2.8 yards. The week before, he put up just 31 yards on 13 carries with a per-carry average of 2.4 yards against Washington.

On the season, Gore has 203 carries for 821 yards and eight touchdowns, with a per-carry average of 4.0 yards. While the 49ers' passing game has improved in recent weeks, Gore struggling is never a good sign. Some of this can be blamed on the offensive line, some on the play-calling, and some on the abysmal run blocking of tight end Vance McDonald.

It's also possible that Vernon Davis taking on an even more prominent role in the passing game has played a part, as well.

Whatever the reason, the 49ers absolutely need to get things figured out sooner rather than later. The Seattle Seahawks just embarrassed the New Orleans Saints and their high-flying offense on Monday Night Football and did the same to Colin Kaepernick and San Francisco's offense in Week 2.

Unfortunately, Gore wasn't so solid in that game, either. In fact, it was his worst outing of the season. He carried the ball just nine times for 16 yards, with a per-carry average of 1.8 yards and a long of 5 yards.

The Seahawks boast the league's best pass defense, allowing 177.3 passing yards per game on average. That's right in line with how many passing yards the 49ers throw for on a week-to-week basis. The yardage through the air could be few and far between, though Michael Crabtree does present an interesting wrinkle.

But it's the No .13 rush defense that has been at least somewhat susceptible this season. I don't know how I'd attack the Seahawks from start to finish, but a healthy dosage of Gore early and often is probably how I'd start, provided the 49ers are at all confident in stopping the Seahawks on defense.

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