While the Super Bowl spotlight has been on the Harbaugh brothers, Ray Lewis and the opposing quarterbacks, the most fundamental and crucial part of the game is getting overlooked: the running game. There are so many great storylines for this matchup, but Ray Rice or Frank Gore will be the key to having his team hoist the Lombardi Trophy.
That being said, I think that Gore will be unstoppable come Sunday.
I know this is a bold statement considering that he’s up against a hard-hitting, veteran defense in the Baltimore Ravens, but let’s look at the facts. Other than the 42-13 defeat against Seattle in Week 16 where he racked up only 28 yards, Gore has averaged over 97 yards against top-10 rush defenses in the regular season.
Although the San Francisco 49ers haven’t faced tough defenses this postseason (Green Bay, Atlanta), it doesn’t mean that Gore’s production should go unnoticed. In two games, he has rushed for 209 yards and three touchdowns. In his four-game postseason career, Gore has averaged 5.2 yards per carry without losing a fumble.
Add that to his 2012 résumé.
The 49ers running back racked up over 1,200 yards and eight touchdowns this year, and he only lost one fumble. In fact, in his eight-year career, Gore has only relinquished 16 fumbles.
If Joe Flacco can establish a strong passing presence early, then it certainly opens up play-action opportunities for Ray Rice. However, Gore still has more potential to play a huge role because of quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Kaepernick has captured the nation’s attention due to his speed, throwing ability and composure in big moments. All eyes will be on the young quarterback and the pistol formation, including the Ravens’. There is no doubt that the majority of preparation has gone towards Kaepernick, but the best part about his game is his ability to dupe defenders.
In Ray Lewis’ final game, he will have to deal with determining whether the quarterback or the running back will rush the ball, and most of the time they’re going opposite directions. Just as Rice needs Flacco to perform, Gore needs his young quarterback to make plays when he keeps the ball to have the defense continually guessing.
With Frank Gore’s reliable track record and the Ravens’ focus on Kaepernick (and don’t forget about their fantastic offensive line), the 49ers running back will be a force to be reckoned with come Super Bowl Sunday.
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