Is Frank Gore a good fit for the spread? That’s the question of the week. And my answer is . . . Frank Gore is a good fit for any offense that requires a running back to catch, block and, of course, run with the football.
On his KNBR radio show this week, Steve Young opined that Gore “needs to be traded” if the 49ers decide to stick with the spread offense. (This whole discussion begins at the 21-minute mark of the interview.)
“You can’t run the spread with Frank Gore being effective,” Young said. “He’s not the guy who’s going to catch the ball like Marshall Faulk, and slash and burn like Joseph Addai and different guys who have thrived in the spread.”
Steve Young knows a heck of a lot more about football than yours truly, and he does not say stuff for shock value. But I think in this case he was just trying to make a point. And his point is: You don’t begin the season building everything around one person and then abandon it after 10 games.
If my team were running the spread – or anything else – I’d take Gore over Addai. Gore missed three games with injuries this season. Addai has played every game. Gore has 877 yards from scrimmage, including 234 yards receiving. Addai has 839 yards from scrimmage, including 256 yards receiving.
Gore caught 61 passes in 2006; 53 in 2007; and 43 a year ago. He is an accomplished receiver out of the backfield. He gained more than 1,000 yards rushing each of those seasons – the first player in 49ers history to accomplish that feat.
Moreover, the 49ers never want to take him off the field on third downs because he is also a terror in blitz pickup. He seems like the ideal running back for a spread formation.
Sorry, Steve, but I respectfully disagree with your assessment that Gore must be traded if the 49ers stick with the spread offense.
* * *
In the five games Alex Smith has started at quarterback, Gore has gained 370 yards on 76 rushing attempts. Sure, he’s best known as a one-cut-and-get-up-the-field-runner, but he is far more versatile than most people realize. To further prove my point, in the past five games . . .
With Smith under center, Gore has 51 rushes for 235 yards (4.6 average)
With Smith in the shotgun, Gore has 25 rushes for 135 yards (5.4 average)
* * *
Is Gore happy that the 49ers seemingly have gone to more of a passing approach? He said all the right things yesterday when asked about it. But coach Mike Singletary, who chatted privately with Gore, intimated there are some issues that need to be worked out.
“Frank is not going to lose his mind if he doesn’t get 100 yards because I think, at the end of the day, it’s all about winning,” Singletary said. “He may be upset at the moment, but I know he’s going to come back the next day and say, ‘Hey, you know what? I’m glad we won. I know I did contribute.’
“Frank is a team guy. But it’s like anything else. I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a situation where it may be a family member, it may be a team member and somebody else does something great. You want to be happy for them, but it’s a natural thing. You can’t take away from the fact that you want to do well, too. . . . I don’t think it’s any more than that, but to ask someone not to be natural, to ask someone not to be human. I just think it’s just a matter of everybody understanding where we’re striving to go. It has to be family. It has to be team, knowing that not everybody is going to happy all of the time.”
* * *