The San Francisco 49ers have started off with a 3-1 record and Frank Gore has had one good game. The team has somehow found ways to win games, a testament to good coaching, staying focused and a little bit of luck.
In his first three games, Gore had only 148 yards rushing in 59 carries, an average of 2.5 yards per carry. There were a lot of whispers about Gore losing a step, following his season-ending hip injury last year.
Truth be told, Gore did look a bit sluggish, but a big part of his lack of production was poor play from the 49er offensive line. Against the Eagles, everything seemed right with the world. The line played by far its best game of the year and opened holes for both Gore and rookie Kendall Hunter.
Gore rushed 15 times for 127 yards, an average of 8.5 yards per carry. What was even more impressive was late in the fourth quarter, the 49ers needed a first down to secure the victory. The Niners called Gore's number and he delivered. In two plays, he powering through a porous Eagle defense for a big first down.
The insertion of Adam Snyder at right guard, replacing Chilo Rachal, was a big factor in the 49ers' improved play along the offensive line. All of the 49er linemen played well except for Anthony Davis, who was truly abysmal. Davis will need to step up his game, or he too will find himself on the bench.
I believe Gore found his rhythm this past Sunday and, along with Hunter, should continue to produce. Hunter has given head coach Jim Harbaugh an excellent change-of-pace running back, in the same mold as a Darren Sproles.
The use of both backs benefits Gore as he doesn't get beaten up on every play. In addition, the change of pace is tough for an opposing defense to contend with.
The key to the 49ers running game and the entire offense is strong play from the offensive line. The line seems to be coming together, but this week's test against the Tampa Bay front seven will be a much tougher task for the 49ers.
If the line gives Gore some room to run, he proved he can still get the job done. I expect him to continue to be productive and return to his 1,000-yard rushing form now that he and his line seem to be in sync.
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