Going into the week 11 match-up against the division rival Arizona Cardinals, 49ers star running back Frank Gore expects to play after leaving the game last week with an injured knee. Before Gore missed the majority of the game against the Giants, he was on a streak of 5 straight games with 100-yards rushing. In addition to that, the 49ers have been on a 7-game win streak.
Even having missed some time, Gore is 7th in the NFL in rushing with 782 yards and 5 touchdowns. At the beginning of the season, many knew that the running back needed less than 1,000 yards this season to surpass Joe Perry to become the all-time rusher in 49er franchise history. Going into this weekends game, Gore needs 149 yards to get there.
The likely scenario is that Gore will not rip off a 150+ yards against the Cardinals on Sunday, even though he is familiar with their team. But over the next two games, it is conceivable that he may get the record on the road against the Baltimore Ravens on Thanksgiving Day.
Since Alex Smith had his statement game against the New York Giants, which seemed to be a turning point for a lot of Smith-haters, it will be interesting to see how it effects the ground game. Will defenses begin to respect the ability of Smith more, and in turn, open bigger holes for Gore with less defenders in the box? Or will teams continue to gameplan for Gore as priority number one?
The fact of the matter is, whether teams are gameplanning for Gore or not, they haven't been able to stop him as of recent. The Giants could say they got lucky since Gore tweaked his knee --- it could have been much uglier if Gore stayed in an found his groove. Luckily Kendall Hunter has been a reliable back when asked to step in for the feature back in San Francisco.
Against the Cardinals, I think Gore will want to get his carries that he missed out on last week. I'm not suggesting Gore will have 30+ carries, but 25 is a reasonable amount, not including the plays where he is an option receiver getting touches. Moreover, the 49ers are at home where Gore loves to perform for his fans. I think it's safe to say that he will start where he left off before the Giants game and break the century mark on the day.
If he does that, it will set him up nicely for the Ravens game where he will have an opportunity to attain the franchise rushing record which Gore said in the preseason would be a huge deal for him. Gore has stuck with the 49ers through thick and thin and I think he deserves the rushing title. But in hindsight, I think what is more important to him is the W.
The Cardinals defense has played with heart these pass two weeks so the yards may not come easy. However, my unbias opinion favors Gore and the 49ers run game against the Cardinals front seven. I like Gore in this match-up and look forward to his return as San Francisco looks to go 9-1.
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