49ers Still In The Thick Of NFC West Battle

The 49ers are still in contention for divisional title.
NFL: San Francisco 49ers at St. Louis Rams

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) calls a play at the line against the St. Louis Rams during the first half at the Edward Jones Dome. ( Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports)

(C+P) — For all of the negativity that the San Francisco 49ers have had to battle, thus far, in 2014, standing at 4-3 heading into their bye week is not all that bad. Arizona sits at 6-1 atop the NFC West Division. However, at 4-3 and heading into the softest portion of their schedule, head coach Jim Harbaugh and company are still in contention for a fourth straight berth in the NFC Championship Game.

A big part of getting back to the NFC title game is the ground game led by running back Frank Gore. At 31 years of age, the 10th-year pro leads San Francisco with 423 yards rushing and averages 4.1 yards per carry. Gore is the reason that the Niners are 10th in the NFL in rushing.

Sep 28, 2014; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore (21) breaks for 55 yard touchdown on a pass from 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7), not in picture, against the Philadelphia Eagles during the second quarter at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports
San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore (21) breaks for 55 yard touchdown on a pass from 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick against the Philadelphia Eagles during the second quarter at Levi’s Stadium. (Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports)

After a slow start – both Gore and the 49ers – the former Miami RB had consecutive 100-yard games in wins over Philadelphia and Kansas City. Gore rushed 24 times for 119 yards against the Eagles and had 107 yards on 18 carries in the win over the Chiefs.

Recently though, Harbaugh has utilized a four-receiver set that has allowed quarterback Colin Kaepernick do what he does best. Gore is, of course, off the field in the spread sets which help the fourth-year QB isolate matchups before the snap.

In San Francisco’s loss to Denver, Harbaugh used the spread to try and ignite the offense. Kaepernick ran a seven-play, 80-yard drive for a touchdown in the second quarter employing the spread attack on every snap. Nearly 70 percent of his 263 passing yards were generated from a four-receiver set against the Broncos.

While Harbaugh and the offensive staff will continue to utilize four-receiver sets in the offense, they will also continue to do what they are well known for – running the football. Gore managed just nine carries for 20 yards against Denver, but look for him to be a force as the Niners enter the second half of the season.

Gore has rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of his past nine seasons except for two. One was his rookie season back in 2005, and the other was an injury-shortened 2010. The 49ers are back in action on Sunday, Nov. 2, when they welcome the St. Louis Rams to Levi’s Stadium.

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