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Focus on: Frank Gore
Colin Kaepernick. Anquan Boldin. Michael Crabtree. Vernon Davis. Joe Staley. Mike Iupati.
There’s a lot for the Seahawks’ No. 1-ranked defense to be concerned with when it comes to the San Francisco 49ers’ offense as it prepares for Sunday’s NFC Championship game at CenturyLink Field. There’s Kaepernick, the quarterback who has done it with his arm and his legs in the playoffs the past two seasons. There are Boldin, Crabtree and Davis, dangerous receivers one and all. And the left side of the line features the Pro Bowl duo of Staley at tackle and Iupati at guard.
But the place to start when it comes to defending the 49ers remains Frank Gore.
“No doubt,” defensive end Cliff Avril said Monday. “That’s where it starts most games. If you stop the run, that’s key, but especially with these guys. Gore is a heckuva back. The biggest thing for us is just playing sound and playing disciplined. Not trying to do too much and getting out of your gaps and trying to make that extra play.
“Because he’ll definitely pick us apart if we do that. So I think that’s definitely the big key right there is stopping Frank Gore.”
The two highest-yardage games of Gore’s nine-year career have come against the Seahawks – 212 in 2006 and 207 in 2009. His longest TD run also came against the Seahawks – an 80-yarder in 2009.
Past history, and past his prime? Hardly. This season, Gore ran for 1,128 yards and nine touchdowns. In the 49ers’ playoff wins over the Packers in Green Bay and Panthers in Carolina the past two weekends, he added 150 yards and another TD.
In the Seahawks’ Week 14 game at Candlestick Park, they took a 17-16 lead with 6½ minutes to play, only to have the 5-foot-9, 217-pound Gore break a 51-yard run to set up a game-winning field goal with 26 seconds left. And Gore did the same thing against the Panthers on Sunday, going for 39 yards to set up a field goal that made it 23-10 with less than eight minutes to play.
The Seahawks also have had their success against Gore, which translated into team success. Gore had 16 yards on nine carries in the Seahawks’ 29-3 victory in Week 2 this season at CenturyLink Field. In their 42-13 romp over the 49ers at CenturyLink last December, Gore had 28 yards on six carries.
A repeat performance will be necessary if the Seahawks are to advance to the Super Bowl.
“He’s really capable,” coach Pete Carroll said. “He’s a fantastic runner. He’s got great sense. He’s got as good a sense in the line of scrimmage as anybody that’s playing in the game. If you make a mistake, he takes advantage of it.” Read