Prior to Sunday's game against the Indianapolis Colts, there was some talk among certain writers that Frank Gore appeared to be done, or at least close to done. He had struggled through the first two games of the season, and the running game was simply not getting going.
Against the Colts, Gore rushed for 82 yards, including 70 in the first half. The ground game as a whole had 102 yards before halftime. The team trailed 10-7, but they were in a position where they could continue grinding it out on the ground. Late in the game, Gore had some words for Jim Harbaugh, but since then he has said it was frustration with losing. And given his lack of use in the second half, is it really worthwhile to call him on being angry?
As the 49ers head into St. Louis, they are approaching a game that presents a unique challenge. Winning this game would help at least slow the bleeding after a rough couple of weeks. Going into a short week on the road against a divisional opponent, the 49ers just need to come out with a win. It doesn't matter how ugly it is, a win at least slows things down and let's the team re-group. Whatever the final score, any kind of win is valuable this week, and considering how ugly this game could get, expectations should probably be rather low for the aesthetic quality of this game.
And the best way to grind this one out is on the ground. The Rams did solid work the first two weeks in slowing the Cardinals and Saints rushing attacks, and then were absolutely bulldozed by DeMarco Murray and the Dallas Cowboys. I hope the 49ers intently studied how the Cowboys did that, because it would be nice to replicate something like that.
The NFL sends out stats information each week covering all sorts of random tidbits. This week's release (PDF) included this Nugget: Frank Gore's 10,929 total yards from scrimmage since 2006 (when he became a starter) is second most in the NFL in that time. Only Steven Jackson has more yards from scrimmage.
The 49ers cannot bank on Frank Gore of the last seven years, but the current iteration of Frank Gore is not out of gas quite yet. He may not have many years left in the NFL, but he still has some gas in the tank. This is the kind of game Frank Gore and the 49ers run blocking was built for. I thought the same thing last week, and for one half, it proved true. Now let's see if the game-plan properly reflects that.