Frank Gore has warmed to the Pistol offense in time for Super Bowl 2013

When the San Francisco 49ers coaches approached veteran running back Frank Gore midway through the season and told him they'd be making some changes to the offense, Gore didn't take the news all too well.

For a player who had made his living and established himself among the league's top backs by lining up in a pro-style offense and running the football behind a fullback, Gore didn't initially welcome the idea of switching to the Pistol formation.

In fact, he downright hated it, saying at least once that the offensive formation -- which called for the quarterback to line up four yards behind the center and the running back another few yards behind the quarterback -- was not real football.

But after helping the 49ers rank fourth in the NFL in rushing offense and leading them to Sunday's Super Bowl 2013 against the Baltimore Ravens at the Mercedes-Benz Super Bowl, Gore appears to be warming to the offensive system.

"I didn't like the Pistol at first, but I am a team guy and it helped us get here," Gore said. "We are doing great things with it so I am with it now."

San Francisco Coach Jim Harbaugh said he knew it wouldn't take long for Gore to get over his apprehensions. Gore, whose time in a pro-style offense dates back to his college days at Miami, studied the philosophies of nuance in the Pistol and read-option offense.

And while he went the final nine regular season games of the regular season without a 100-yard rushing game, Gore has proven in the playoff that he still is a major factor in the offense.

After rushing for 119 yards a touchdown on 23 carries in the 49ers' 45-31 divisional playoff win against the Green Bay Packers, Gore followed up the performance with a 20-carry, 90-yard, two-touchdown performance in the NFC Championship game win against the Atlanta Falcons. Gore scored both touchdowns in the second half as the 49ers overcame a 17-point deficit on the way to a 28-24 victory.

"Nobody does it better than Frank Gore, nobody," Harbaugh said. "I have the greatest respect for Frank because he has the greatest respect for the game. It's evidenced by how he plays, every single game, every single day. Nobody does it better than Frank Gore. I really believe in his talent, but the greatest share is his love for the game; his love and respect for the game of football."

Gore, who has rushed for at least 1,000 yards in six of his eight seasons on his way to becoming the 49ers' all-time leading rusher, is finally seeing the fruits of his hard work.

Despite individual success in his first six seasons, Gore experienced few team triumphs before Harbaugh arrived before the 2011 season.

In his first six seasons, the 49ers failed to make the playoffs. And Gore was repeatedly dogged by an assortment of injuries.

But now his team's fortunes have changed, even if the offense had to change with it.

"It's big," Gore said of finally advancing to the Super Bowl. "It's big, especially going through so much with this organization. I was drafted in '05 and I had a lot of struggles. We had some players in the locker room, but now we have a chance to play in the big game, so it's big.

"I've dreamed about playing in this game a long time. I'm excited and ready."

While 49ers' upstart quarterback Colin Kaepernick is clearly San Francisco's most talked-about player here at the Super Bowl, Gore is their rock.

"He's a great player," Kaepernick said. "He's a great leader. He's a workhorse. He's going to do whatever it takes to win and we need Frank Gore to be Frank. That will be good enough on Sunday. I think you can put Frank in any offense and he will be successful. He's the type of running back that can adapt. He can do anything we need him to do. I think that's why he has been doing so well."

Gore, who has made the Pro Bowl four times, has done his job quietly, too. The unassuming running back who has rushed for a franchise-record 8,839 yards in the regular season during his career, said he'll continue to do his job and handle his business just as he did the change in offensive strategy.

"I've always been quiet," he said. "I like to just chill and watch and let everybody else do the talking and not waste time.

"I'm going to do whatever it takes to win, blocking, running, catching."

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