Frank Gore pops Carolina Panthers' hopes with big fourth-quarter run

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Frank Gore had run for only 39 yards until he doubled that output on a fourth-quarter carry that helped seal the 49ers' 23-10, divisional-playoff win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

On third-and-1 at the 49ers' 34-yard line, Gore burst through traffic at the line of scrimmage and reached the Panthers' 27 before getting tackled. That put the 49ers well within range for Phil Dawson's third field goal of the game, and most important, that drive soaked up nearly eight minutes.

"I've never seen anybody pop big runs like Frank Gore does when there's nine, 10, 11 men in the box," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said.

Gore finished with 84 of the 49ers' 126 rushing yards. His 632 all-time playoff yards moved him past Steve Young (594) for second most in 49ers history behind Roger Craig (817).

Part of Gore's motivation was to conquer Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly, who unseated the 49ers' Patrick Willis on the Associated Press' All-Pro first team next to NaVorro Bowman.

"I take my hat off to No. 59 (Kuechly), he's a great player, but I wanted to show everybody that we have two of the best linebackers in the league," Gore said.

Last week in practice, Gore played a behind-the-scenes role in preparing Vernon Davis for Sunday's go-ahead touchdown catch. Gore threw an array of passes to Davis on the side, and Davis credited those sessions for his fancy footwork on a 1-yard TD catch 5 seconds before halftime.

"We'd be on the sideline when the defense was practicing," Gore said. "I'd say, 'You want to be great. Let's do this.' Then I'd make crazy throws -- low, high, one-hand (catches), behind him. We're just trying to get better."

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