Full previews and analysis of this week's opponent, the San Francisco 49ers, still to come, but truly in my mind, the discussion basically begins and ends with Frank Gore, the 49ers talented 3rd year back out of Miami.
After being relegated to back-up duties his first year, Gore burst onto the scene in 2006 in a big way. 1695 rushing yards, a mighty impressive 5.4 yards per carry average, 8 TDs...all very impressive numbers. In fact, the rushing yards set a 49ers franchise record, eclipsing Garrison Heart's 1,570 mark from 1998. He also set SF's single-game rushing record when he blasted the Seahawks defense for 212 yards on just 24 carries. And, he did all this despite it being just his first year as a starter. Gore also caught 61 passes for nearly 500 yards. That's 2000+ yards on an offense that struggled at various times throughout the season.
Gore better find himself in open space if SF hopes to knock off the resurgent Steelers
If Gore doesn't rush for 100 yards, I can't see the 49ers winning this game. I haven't seen them play too much, but I believe I've seen enough to know that they still don't open things up enough in the passing game to really scare me. Instead, they seem to be content playing ball control with Gore, minimizing mistakes from Alex Smith, and giving themselves a chance to win late in the game.
There probably won't be tons of room for Gore to operate on Sunday, but that doesn't mean he's not capable of breaking off a big play or two - his long TD run this past Sunday was basically on a broken play. So, if we wrap up and continue to tackle well, I like our chances of keeping SF's offense in the 275-325 total yard range, which in my mind, should put us in good shape to improve to 3-0.