Frank Gore accepting the pistol offense

SANTA CLARA -- Frank Gore may "love" the pistol formation now, but the 49ers' all-time leading rusher certainly didn't at first glance.

"I felt that's not real football, at first," Gore said Thursday. "But it's helping us to where we want to go, and win it all."

With quarterback Colin Kaepernick directing that multi-optional formation at times, the second-seeded 49ers (12-4-1) are on the cusp of reaching Super Bowl XLVII. They'll visit the top-seeded Atlanta Falcons (14-3) at noon Sunday in the NFC Championship Game.

Gore's impression of the pistol formation and other read-option schemes has changed since he first saw Oregon excelling with it in the college ranks.

Having played in a pro-style system since his collegiate days at the University of Miami, Gore's adapted to the type of read-option schemes that saw Kaepernick run for 181 yards — the most ever by a quarterback — in last Saturday's 45-31 win over the Green Bay Packers.

"Kap did a great job last week," Gore said. "He's big, strong, fast and they have to look out for them.

"Hopefully they keep looking out for him, then 21 (Gore's jersey number) keeps getting the ball and I do what he did last week."

Gore had 23 carries for 119 yards and a touchdown in Saturday night's playoff-opening win. He also had two receptions for 48 yards.

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