Niners running back Frank Gore had very little running room against the Seahawks. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Through the first two games of the season, it’s as if 49ers running back Frank Gore has been running into brick walls.
He’s carried the ball 30 times for 60 yards. Those are horrible numbers for a back who’s averaged 4.6 yards per carry in his nine-year career, with six seasons of 1,000 or more yards on the ground.
In a nationally televised Sunday night loss in Seattle, Gore ran the ball nine times for just 16 yards.
The 49ers running game with Gore – the team’s bedrock the past two seasons under head coach Jim Harbaugh – has been stuffed. Only quarterback Colin Kaepernick has had success carrying the ball, on scrambles and designed plays.
After averaging 5.1 yards per carry last season as a team, the Niners are picking up just 3.5 yards this season.
Gore says that has to change, beginning this Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts at Candlestick Park.
“We have to get better in the running game,” Gore told Bill Williamson of ESPN.com. “We have to get it done. There are a lot of teams playing us (tough). We still have to find a way to get it done.”
The Niners’ offensive line, graded as one of the best in the NFL last season, had a rough night against Seattle’s defense, which overwhelmed them. Pro Bowl linemen such as Joe Staley and Mike Iupati had terrible games – as graded by Pro Football Focus.
Harbaugh says offensive line blocking will be addressed.
“There are things we’ll put our finger on and try to make improvement – significant improvement – this week,” Harbaugh told the Bay Area media. “That’s something that, early part of the season, you want to make the most of, identifying where you can get better, make improvements, and you want to see those improvements made.”
Gore told reporters that the Packers and Seahawks have committed to stopping the 49ers on the ground, sometimes with eight and nine players close to the line of scrimmage. Kaepernick made the Packers pay for it by throwing for more than 400 yards. But against the Seahawks, the 49ers’ passing game was ineffective, too.
Fullback Bruce Miller said there’s nothing complex or mysterious about what the 49ers need to do. San Francisco has to get back to physically winning at the line of scrimmage.
“It’s about execution, winning one-on-one battles, communicating better and playing together as a unit,” Miller told Carl Steward of the Bay Area News Group. “We have seen some different things, some movement up front, and we just have to follow our rules and execute better.”
After two rough games, however, NFL analyst Elliot Harrison believes the 49ers will get their ground attack rolling Sunday against the Colts.
“We can expect Frank Gore to get 20-25 touches following a rough night in Seattle (nine carries for 16 yards) last Sunday,” wrote Harrison. “I don’t expect San Francisco’s offensive line to have trouble with Indianapolis’ defensive front.”