San Francisco 49ers: 4 Keys for a Dominant Frank Gore Season
The San Francisco 49ers are starting to look like the best team in the NFC, and star RB Frank Gore has been a huge part of this recent success.
Right now everything seems to be clicking for the 49ers, who have their best chance at a Super Bowl in over a decade.
This is a rare opportunity, but will only end in a Super Bowl title if Frank Gore continues to dominate.
Here's what it'll take.
This one's rather obvious, but it's unquestionably the most important. To have a dominant year, Gore not only needs to play, but needs to be on the field at 100 percent.
Gore is now 29 years old. Most RBs are long gone at his age, yet Gore is fresh off a 16-game season and performing well.
Yet, at 29, Gore needs to be careful. He shouldn't get more than 20 carries on a regular basis, can't be afraid to go out of bounds and needs to treat his body like the Holy Grail.
If Gore can do all this, he could play the entire season and continue to move the chains for his team.
Alex Smith's Passing Attack
Alex Smith has looked solid and consistent since the beginning of last year. This continued success is going to make defending Gore just about impossible.
With receiving threats like Vernon Davis, Randy Moss, Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham, the 49ers' passing offense is legit. Defenses are going to have to worry about defending the run and the pass, which should allow Gore to bust into secondaries and tally big yardage.
This new passing attack paid huge dividends last season. Gore was able to play in all 16 games for the first time since 2006.
With improved receivers and a revolutionized Alex Smith under center, Gore is going to be more effective than ever.
Emergence of Alex Boone
Coming into this season, there were some questions surrounding new 49ers right guard Alex Boone. Through two games, the doubters are already silent.
The 6'8" 300 pounder went unpicked in the 2009 draft following some off-the-field issues, but is already starting to play like one of the best guards in the league.
Even as a first-year starter, Boone has held his own against top-notch defenders like B.J. Raji and Ndamukong Suh. He opened some enormous holes for Gore and will continue to be a big factor in the run game.
With Boone and the rest of the offensive line clearing the way, Frank Gore will continue to play like one of the league's elite backs.
Backup RBs Kendall Hunter and Brandon Jacobs
Frank Gore is not alone any more. With Kendall Hunter and Brandon Jacobs backing him up, Gore can stay fresh the entire year and keep defenses on their heals.
Kendall Hunter had a solid game against the Lions Sunday Night, tallying 43 total yards as the team's backup. He also got a resounding endorsement from offensive coordinator Greg Roman via CSN Bay Area:
He’s really starting to understand all the different things that go into playing running back in this league," Roman said. "Which is more than carrying the ball. It’s pass-protection, route-running, catching the ball, ball security and the special teams aspect of things as well.
Jacobs didn't play due to a knee injury, but received good news from an MRI and could be back on the field soon, according to the Mercury News.
All this is huge news for Gore and the 49ers. If Hunter proves to be a reliable threat and Jacobs continues to run defenders over like he usually does, the 49ers can rest Gore in certain scenarios, keeping wear-and-tear in check.
With Hunter and Jacobs as backups (maybe throw in LaMichael James later in the season as well), defenses will have trouble preparing for this brutal and versatile running attack. Gore will also keep his carries below 20 per game, ensuring he has his health come January.