If San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith is going to take a big step in becoming an elite NFL quarterback this season and help the 49ers win the NFC West for the first time since 2002, my advice to the embattled quarterback:
When in trouble, call on Frank Gore.
Coming off a season where he set a career high in touchdowns with 13 (10 rushing, three receiving) while rushing for 1,120 yards, Gore's production should increase in 2010. Like the rest of the 49ers offensive players on the roster, Gore will benefit greatly from another season in coordinator Jimmy Raye's offense.
Regarded as one of the hardest working running backs in the NFL, Gore needs to be fed the ball more. The 49ers were 25th in the league in rushing last season.
Ever since his franchise record breaking 1,695 rushing yards on 312 carries in 2006, Gore's carries have slipped in recent years.
The bruising running back with breakaway speed went from 260 carries in 2007, 240 carries in 2008, and 229 carries in 2009. A running back of Gore's pedigree needs to have the ball in his hands a lot.
Gore, who is the only running back in team history to post four consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons, is undoubtedly the 49ers work horse. He is the man who is the straw that stirs the drink that is the 49ers cocktail.
During Gore's last four seasons, he has amased 4,953 rushing yards which ranks fourth overall in the NFL for a running back during that span.
Since his rookie season in 2005, the 49ers are 18-2 when Gore has 20-or-more carries in a game, and are 15-5 when he rushes for 100+ yards in a game. Its relatively clear that when Gore carries the ball more, the 49ers are nearly impossible to beat.
As much I would like to see the "Alex Smith Project" finally pan out this upcoming season and give the 49ers offense balance, Gore will continue to be the heart and soul of the team.
If Smith is having trouble moving the chains, he and Raye should dial up No. 21 because he is just like Allstate Insurance.
They will always put you in good hands.