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If the San Francisco 49ers are going to stand a chance against the New Orleans Saints, then Frank Gore needs to play the game of his life. It’s not outside the realm of possibility: Gore has had a monster 2012 season, posting some of the best numbers of his career across the board.
It is fortunate that Gore is having such a standout season because his offensive counterpart, Alex Smith, is a pretty pedestrian quarterback. Gore’s rushing attack has been the lynch pin that holds the 49ers offense together, while Smith’s passing game has been a satisfactory compliment.
Standing between Gore and the breakout rushing game the 49ers need will be Roman Harper and the rest of the New Orleans defense.
A team leader, Harper has been a big key to the Saints defense, contributing 95 tackles and seven defended passes in 2011. Although his contributions come all over the field, Harper will be tasked with keeping an eye on Gore to try to limit the Niners’ notoriously good ground game.
This matchup could be particularly crucial if Harper is unable to play at full strength on Saturday due to an ankle injury that he sustained during the matchup against the Lions.