Sep/29/14 08:11 AM Filed in: Frank Gore
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The real Frank Gore is back, and with him, the real San Francisco 49ers offense.
A week after a baffling game plan in a loss to the Arizona Cardinals that resulted in just six rushes for 10 yards for Gore, the 49ers looked like themselves again, with an offense powered by their 31-year-old running back.
San Francisco might have invested big in the passing game, with a massive contract extension for quarterback Colin Kaepernick, a trade to acquire veteran receiver Stevie Johnson from Buffalo, and the addition of veteran Brandon Lloyd to join Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin, but it is clear that Gore remains the heart of the 49ers' offense, and they aren't going to win much without him.
Even Sunday, it took until the 49ers' second possession to get back to Gore. On that drive, the second play went to Gore, who ripped off a 15-yard run, just a preview of the type of day that was to come. By the time the 49ers closed out their 26-21 win against the Philadelphia Eagles, Gore had 119 rushing yards on 24 carries — about 5 yards per attempt — and another 55 receiving yards, all of them on perhaps the wildest touchdown catch of his career.
No, Gore certainly wasn't the intended target for Kaepernick after the quarterback scrambled to his left and rolled way out of the pocket. Gore, over on the right side of the field, was so far out of the play that coach Jim Harbaugh had lost sight of him. Harbaugh had no idea what Kaepernick saw as the quarterback heaved the ball across his body for a throw that covered about 30 horizontal yards.
But there was Gore, wide open, and then sprinting past the Eagles secondary for his first touchdown of the year.
"He broke the tackle and got into the end zone," Kaepernick said. "Putting the ball in 21's hands is a good thing."
That might be the truest thing Kaepernick has said all season.
Yet for the 49ers to be successful, it won't be because of Gore's clutch catches, it will be through his tough running, just as it has been so often over the past eight years.
"That was our mindset, just getting him back on the ball and getting him touches, making sure we controlled the line of scrimmage," Boldin said.