Frank Gore with the Score and Much, Much More vs. Seattle

Michael ErlerCorrespondent ISeptember 21, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO - SEPTEMBER 20:  Running back Frank Gore #21 of the San Francisco 49ers gets a hand off from quarterback Shaun Hill #13 and runs for a touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks in the first quarter during the home opener at Candlestick Park on September 20, 2009 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by David Paul Morris/Getty Images)

As the saying goes, "That's how you draw it up."

In a breezy 23-10 home win over the division rival Seahawks, the San Francisco 49ers enjoyed the fruits of a game plan that was low on pizazz but high on execution, with star running back Frank Gore romping through the battered Seattle front seven for 207 yards on 16 carries, and two long touchdowns.

After a brutal opener at Arizona where Gore struggled in vain to find any holes, managing only a meager 30 yards on 22 carries, 49ers offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye revealed that his playmaker called him at two in the morning on Monday, asking him what went wrong and if he'd missed any holes.

"He was looking for a hug, a rub, and a lie," was how Raye put it.

It would be a big lie indeed to say that Gore had to do anything extraordinary on either of his scores against Seattle, as basically both were perfectly blocked runs up the gut where he wasn't touched.

For the first touchdown, which came on their series after the team had already successfully driven for a field goal in their first possession, the call was a counter and with right guard Chilo Rachal and center Eric Heitmann taking care of their men and fullback Moran Norris sealing off Seahawks middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu, Gore had a wide lane to burst through.

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He deftly used referee Bill Leavy as a bit of a pick to get an angle on Seattle safety Deon Grant and he was off to the races for a career-long 79-yard score.

Seattle's front seven had already come into the game at considerably less than full strength, as defensive tackle Brandon Mebane (calf) and outside linebacker Leroy Hill (groin) were out injured.

While Tatupu gamely tried to gut his way through a balky hamstring, it was obvious that he was limited, and he called it a day after Gore's first score.

After not doing much of anything for the first 28 minutes of the half, Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck ran a clinical two-minute drill to get the team to San Francisco's four-yard line, but his fateful decision to try to run it in on second-and-goal cost the Seahawks any chance to win the game.

Hasselbeck dove headfirst at the goalline, only to be met head on by 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis, who got in a clean lick on the Seattle signal caller's fragile back.

Hasselbeck was done for the day with bruised ribs and even though backup Seneca Wallace would go on to toss a one yard scoring pass to wide open running back Julius Jones on the next play; that would pretty much be his last highlight for the afternoon.

Whatever momentum the Seahawks took into half time being down only 13-10 despite being largely dominated, quickly evaporated on the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter as Gore didn't waste much time in setting a new career high for his longest carry.

This time it was a simple trap play, and with left tackle Joe Staley sprinting out to sealing back side defensive end Patrick Kerney, Gore again was past the Seahawks safeties before they knew what hit them on the way to an 80-yard touchdown, bringing the margin to a comfortable 10 points once more at 20-10.

"In my mind I was like, 'If he makes the right cut, he's gone,'" Staley said in the locker room afterward. "I felt a 'whoosh' go by my butt, and I turned back and saw [quarterback] Shaun [Hill] smiling, and I knew Frank scored."

Gore "whooshed" his way to some lofty company. The only other player in NFL history with two runs of 79 yards or longer in the same game prior to today was Detroit's Barry Sanders, who had touchdown runs of 82 and 80 yards at Tampa Bay on Oct. 12, 1997.

The only downer for San Francisco in the game was that despite their much-improved run blocking, the offensive line is still having a hell of a time keeping Hill off the dirt, with their plucky QB taking four sacks in 30 dropbacks.

Again the weak link was the right tackle spot, where both Adam Snyder and Tony Pashos got their shots to keep Hill clean, and both failed, with the duo combining to allow three of the four sacks between them.

Hill would blame himself for holding onto the ball too long in his postgame press conference, but head coach Mike Singletary wasn't having it.

"Our quarterback is taking too many hits, and we have to do a much better job," he said emphatically.

Still, all things considered, this was exactly the kind of win that Singletary and Raye were looking for. Gore was the bell cow, Hill didn't turn it over and wasn't required to do anything heroic, and the defense didn't do anything gaudy, but didn't give up any big plays either.

Just like they drew it up.

So far through two games the 49ers have beaten a Cardinals team that begged for Hill to throw on them (Singletary and Raye begrudgingly let him, in the fourth quarter, when they had no other choice), and a Seahawks team that was too depleted to stop the run.

Next week's test, at Minnesota, will be against the Vikings, who have had little difficulty (albeit against inferior competition) in stopping the run or pass. They also have a decent runner of their own, fella by the name of Peterson.

"We've been 2-0 before since I've been here," said Singletary, who joined the team as a linebackers coach in 2005. "We haven't been 3-0 yet; that's the next step."

The next step can wait. 2-0 is 2-0, and after two weeks, it's not a bad place to be.

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