While the past several years have not been particularly kind to the San Francisco 49ers, the team has been fortunate to have a running back the caliber of Frank Gore. While he's dealt with bumps and bruises and last season's lengthy absence, he's put together a pretty impressive career in San Francisco in spite of sometimes questionable offensive talent and even more questionable play-calling at times.
In spite of the sometimes less than stellar talent and play-calling, Gore has continued to put up big numbers in a variety of ways. Doug Farrar of Football Outsiders recently took a look at Gore's success as a third down running back (Thanks to HUNGRY HUNTER for posting this as a FanShot). Farrar took a look at the ten most efficient running backs on third down and Gore came in tenth:
Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers -- 14.2% DVOA (22 carries, 85 yards, 55% Success Rate)
After all these years, and all those quarterback issues, and all those offensive line problems, it's good to see Gore on this list, and it's more than a bit revealing when it comes to his overall greatness as a 49er. For years, he's done it well without a lot of help.
The success rate percentage is the percentage of plays in which Gore gained the necessary yardage for a first-down conversion on third down.
In the last two NFL Drafts, the 49ers have added Anthony Dixon and Kendall Hunter to the fold for reasons that are a bit all over the place. The team needs to find a long-term solution for when Gore runs out of gas, but there is also the thought of trying to mix Dixon and Hunter into the fold to keep Gore a bit more fresh.
The offense is changing this season and it will be interesting to see how the new offense integrates backup running backs behind Gore. While Gore does love getting his carries and being the number one guy, there is some value to the idea of keeping him at least a little bit fresh as the season wears on.
The question is how do you do that without messing with his rhythm? He's a beast on third downs and is generally a great running back. The team has struggled in recent years trying to mix in new running backs, but they've also been dealing with inept offensive game-planning. It's entirely possible Jim Harbaugh and company will have a masterful plan to cover this.
In the meantime, if you were running the offense, how would you utilize Anthony Dixon and Kendall Hunter?