Garrett likes what he sees from Frank Gore

(09-19) 20:45 PDT -- Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett sought out 49ers running back Frank Gore after Sunday's game.

Garrett told Gore that he must have mentioned his name 80 times during the week of preparation for the game. He also told Gore that he admired how he ran against his team.

Yes, Gore gained only 47 yards on 20 carries in Sunday's 27-24 overtime loss, but the low yardage total is understandable considering Dallas used eight-man fronts and made a fundamental change in its approach: Instead of playing a standard 3-4 defense, the Cowboys stationed their rush linebackers right on the line of scrimmage on either side, essentially giving them five men on the defensive line.

The 49ers came out throwing, hoping to get Dallas to de-emphasize its run defense. The Cowboys did not, and their focus was all the sharper after wide receiver Braylon Edwards left with a knee injury.

"I've been in this predicament," Gore said Monday. "They know who I am out there. I know they are going to game-plan me. I know it's going to be tough."

Gore admits to being frustrated. He wants to live up to his recent three-year contract extension, which guaranteed him $13.5 million. He wants to improve his other numbers, such as his yards per carry, which stand at 2.5 for the season. Thirty-two of his 42 carries have resulted in 3 yards or less.

As Garrett noted, Gore ran with determination against Dallas. He finished most of his runs falling forward, and he flattened two linebackers, planting Keith Brooking and Bradie James on their backs.

But neither Gore nor the 49ers benefited from his efforts, and the offense often went in reverse.

"We have negative plays," 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh said. "Those plays - be it a tackle for a loss, or 1- or 2-yard gains, or sacks - those things we have to get better at and eliminate."

The offensive line is allowing too much penetration and the linemen are often failing to punch through the defensive line to block the linebackers. Against Dallas, the linebackers ran nearly free and were focused on Gore.

Center Jonathan Goodwin might have a partial solution: get 4 yards.

"Just because you've got eight guys in the box doesn't mean you can't find a way to get 4 yards," he said.

Gore and tackle Alex Boone believe that if they keep hammering away, the dam will break.

"You've got to pound, pound, pound, and then they start to give up a little bit, and then you take off with it," Boone said.

Whether it's limiting negative plays, setting the small goal of getting a consistent 4 yards or staying with the ground game until it produces, Harbaugh wants the running game to a be major piece of his team's offensive identity.

"We want to be a running team; we want to be a throwing team," Harbaugh said. "We want to be darn near 50/50, and equally good in both."

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