49ers’ Most Valuable Player: Frank Gore
November 14, 2013
The NFL is a quarterback-centered league. Players at that position get the large contracts, endorsement deals, magazine covers, et cetera while players at other positions often receive less fanfare. The San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick is no exception. His successes and failures receive much more attention, and scrutiny, than those of fellow teammates like Frank Gore. In fairness, quarterbacks like Kaepernick are expected to carry a heavy load, but so are players like Gore. As the 49ers have weathered their ups and downs this season, Gore has quietly been the most consistent, and most valuable, player on the team.
Since the 49ers drafted him in 2005, Gore has continually put up astounding numbers. In every season except for 2005 and 2010, he gained over 1,000 yards on the ground. This season appears to be no exception as Gore is on pace for over 1,200 yards rushing. He is ranked 10th in the league in average yards gained per game (77.8) and tied for third in the league for rushing touchdowns (7). The 700 yards he has gained on the ground so far, plus the 117 receiving yards he has earned, make up 28% of the 49ers’ total offense. His touchdowns (7) make up approximately 25% of the team’s total touchdowns (27). The team, which has more rushing attempts (294) than passing (221) in 2013 thus far, is clearly built around Gore’s ability to grind out yards.
Since Gore has been such a consistent workhorse for the team, it is puzzling why he has not been used effectively in some of the 49ers’ games this season. In losses to the Indianapolis Colts and Carolina Panthers, he had few carries in the second half of each game despite showing his ability to gain yards on each defense. Against the Colts, Gore averaged 7.5 yards per carry but had just four carries in the second half. Against the Panthers, he averaged 5.1 yards per carry but yet again only had four carries in the second half. It could be that when the 49ers see themselves getting behind in games they feel the need to pass more, but with Kaepernick struggling, the team should rethink that strategy.
While Kaepernick has received a lot of attention for the 49ers this season, Gore’s contributions should not be overlooked. He produces good yardage for the team every week. If used more effectively, he could help open up the passing game more for Kaepernick. Gore’s efforts could be especially important in the upcoming game against the New Orleans Saints in the noisy Superdome. The last time the two teams met in New Orleans, Gore’s efforts helped seal a victory for the 49ers in Kaepernick’s second start at quarterback. The outcome of this next game could hinge upon Gore proving his tremendous value to the team once again.
Sara DeBord is an NFL writer for www.footballandfutbol.com and www.baysportsreport.com.