Originally written on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 10/19/11

SAN FRANCISCO - NOVEMBER 08: Frank Gore #21 of the San Francisco 49ers walks onto the field for their game against the Tennessee Titans at Candlestick Park on November 8, 2009 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

49ers leading rusher Frank Gore

Yes, I know it’s corny but this article will be entirely devoted to the 49ers ability to run the football.

Here’s a team who is still trotting Alex Smith out at quarterback after a host of unsuccessful seasons.  You figured Gore and the run game would be important and they have- especially for Smith and the passing attack. 
In six games Frank Gore has 541 yards on the ground.  San Fran is the #5 rushing offense.  Perhaps the most important aspect of the run is that it sets up the pass.  The past few weeks, a lot of short yardage 3rd down conversions through the air have helped the 49ers in routing the Bucs and squeaking by the Lions

Let’s put the run game’s success in perspective.  2 of the 4 teams on top of the 49ers in Avg. rush yards per game are the Vikings and the Eagles.  The eagles have Michael Vick- a virtual 2nd running back.  In fact, Vick is outrushing the Tennessee Titans entire team with his 372 yards.  The Vikings as everyone well knows can’t throw the football very well, ergo they run, a lot. They have 166 rush attempts (rank 7); they have thrown 174 times (rank 26).  The Raiders and the Bills are the only two teams legitimately still beating SF in the ground game.  And even then, 4 of 6 opponents for the Raiders are the top 10 worst teams at defending the run.
Let’s just say that you have to look inside the numbers sometimes to realize something.

And what have we realized? That Frank Gore and the 49ers running game are pretty darn good.  Behind the Bills, they are the best in the league.  The Niners are 7th in pts per game and 6th in touchdowns via the ground game.

So I’d say the boys from the east bay are doing just what they need to. ( And remember those upcoming 2 games against the Rams- the league’s worst rated rush defense.)  For San Francisco, the road to the playoffs is on the ground.

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