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Running back Frank Gore is off to a great start this season. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
Frank Gore came out of his last game with 131 yards rushing – and a very sore body.
But when the 5-2 49ers play the 4-3 Cardinals this coming Monday night, expect to see another healthy dose of Gore in San Francisco’s offense.
Arizona ranks just 20th in the NFL against the run, which just might encourage the 49ers to pound the ball with Gore, Kendall Hunter and perhaps even Brandon Jacobs Monday. Jacobs, who hasn’t played yet this season, is activated and participating in practices now.
Gore, meanwhile, suffered bruised ribs in the Thursday night victory over Seattle, in which his 92 yards rushing in the second half were a key factor in the decision. But on Monday, Gore practiced and said his ribs are coming along fine. With a few extra days to mend, Gore expects to play.
“I’ll find a way to get out there and help the team,” Gore told Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group.
With his big night against Seattle, Gore now ranks No. 5 in the NFL in rushing yards with 601 and No. 2 in yards per carry (5.8).
In two games against Arizona last season, Gore carried 34 times for 160 yards. The Arizona defense gave up 153 yards rushing to the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson in its last game, a third consecutive loss.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, the middle of the Arizona defense has been particularly vulnerable to the run. Peterson gained 85 yards up the middle of the defense, and Gore picked up 78 yards and a TD against Arizona last season on runs into the middle of the line, according to ESPN.
Though Gore was hurt during the game Thursday against the Seahawks, he continued to run hard, and 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh said Gore “didn’t let on” that he was hurt.
Said fullback Bruce Miller: “You know what? He didn’t show he was hurting, especially the way he was running the ball.”
Against the Cardinals Monday night, expect San Francisco to give Gore some help. Hunter is playing well in his second year (50 carries, 258 yards, a 5.2 average), and Jacobs, if ready to go, would give the Niners three good backs to run at the Arizona defense.
Gore, though, is off to a great start. The bruised ribs slowed him for a few days, but likely won’t slow him down against Arizona. When his number has been called this season, Gore has produced.
“He’s doing a great job,” said Harbaugh Monday. “He’s been very productive when he’s had the ball in his hands.”