The San Francisco 49ers looked a lot warmer on Saturday. After playing in a meat locker in Wisconsin, they enjoyed the sunny weather and grassy field of Charlotte, and they enjoyed beating the Carolina Panthers into submission.
Frank Gore, the only offensive player who managed to play effectively against the Panthers in their regular-season matchup, was bottled up for most of the game, but he eventually broke lose for a 39-yard run that would all but guarantee the Niners their third straight NFC Championship Game berth.
It's something that we've seen time and time again, and it never gets old. Four years ago, Frank doesn't stop running on that play until he reaches the back of the end zone. The tank may not be as implacable as he was when he entered the league as the 65th pick in the 2005 draft, but it's still a joy watching him run with the football, bouncing off tacklers and shooting through holes. He's like a human pinball.
Earlier this season, quarterback Colin Kaepernick called his running back a future Hall of Famer. Is he right? I'll give you the answer somewhere in this slideshow, but I won't tell you where so you can read all my awesome analysis.
Let's break it down!