49ers find success feeding ball to Frank Gore

NEW ORLEANS -- It is no secret the San Francisco 49ers have more success when they feed the ball to workhorse running back Frank Gore, as they did early and often in their eventual 27-24 overtime victory over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

The question, then, is why does it take the Niners so long to figure this out?

“Today was a must win,” said Gore, who had 57 of his 81 rushing yards in the first half, including a 4-yard rushing touchdown that was his first score on the ground since Week 2. He had 23 carries.

“The way we played, with me running the ball a lot, showed that’s the way we can rush the ball. As long as we can establish the running game and stay on the field, we’ll be fine.”

The 49ers’ 144 rushing yards were a season high on the road.

And, per ESPN Stats & Information, the Niners’ 5.4 rush efficiency marked the first time this season they had a positive rating. They are 20-3-1 (.854) under coach Jim Harbaugh when they post a positive rush efficiency (the NFL average is a .509 winning percentage in such situations), 21-12 (.636) when the rush offense has a negative efficiency (the NFL average then is a .492 winning percentage).

“Our mindset was, 'We’ve got to win,'” said quarterback Colin Kaepernick. “And to do that we had to get the running game going. Our offensive line was doing great blocking and they were running great and we just stuck with it.”

The 49ers’ record improved to 38-7-1 when Gore has at least 20 carries in a game. Gore also eclipsed Eddie George and Tiki Barber for 24th on the NFL’s all-time rushing list with 10,520 career yards. Thomas Jones (10,591 yards) and Jamal Lewis (10,607) are next on the list.

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