Frank Gore, that's like the ideal name for a running back. It's like Hulk smash, or something.
By definition a gore is "to pierce or wound with something pointed (as a horn or knife) gored by a bull>". Keywords, gored by a bull. But here's a visual description for you as well...
In other words, it's to literally run through something.
This is precisely what Frank Gore has done to the Rams during his career. It seems like time and time again, the game is close and in the fourth quarter. The Rams will start to gain some momentum, and will put the 49ers in some sort of third down situation. Then when it seems like the game is the Rams' to lose, Gore comes out of nowhere, and makes it his game to win. How many times have Rams fans seen a game against San Francisco, where the Rams only need one more stop to either win the game or have a chance to win it - and on third and whatever - Frank Gore breaks loose? No matter how stacked the box may be it somehow works in his favor. He continues to run straight through the Rams defense.
Over the course of his career Gore has played the Rams 15 times. In those 15 games he has amassed 1,413 yards from scrimmage. That's almost 100 yards a game. As if the yards aren't impressive enough, he has 30 touchdowns. He averages two scores a game against the Rams.
For the Rams to stop Gore there are two groups of players to watch.
- James Laurinaitis and Alec Ogletree - These two are going to have to fill the lanes all day, and fly to the ball. Something they are accustomed to doing already, but it will need to be done at a higher level. They'll need to be patient as well, as Gore has some of the best vision and patience in football, and exploits cutbacks and holes as good as anyone. Remember, age has not slowed him, but instead only made him wiser. In other words they have to see what he sees, then swoop in for the kill.
- Michael Brockers and Aaron Donald - Aaron Donald has been unbelievable against the run so far. It's not really a surprise if you watched any of his college film, but to do it with the efficiency he has done it with at this level is the impressive part. He and Brockers are going to have to blow the middle up consistently. Stopping him before he gets going is key. He is very hard to tackle so you have to slow his foot speed early on.
WHAT ELSE TO WATCH FOR...
- The Rams rushing attack will be vital in this game. I have set the over/under for success at 150 rushing for the Rams. The reason being is 150 will not come with an average of 4.5-5 yards a carry. For the Rams to get 150 rushing yards it will more than likely come on the heels of a per carry average in the range of 3.5-4.1. This is a stingy defense, and with a low average but a lot of yards, that means that you are still managing to sustain drives, and avoid three and outs.
- Austin Davis will be facing his toughest challenge yet. With the run game struggling to get anything to pop, there will have to be some explosive plays created through the air. While has had a lot of success doing just that so far, this is by far the best safety tandem he has seen. Antoine Bethea and Eric Reid have been playing lights out football. He'll have to know where they are at all times and attack the sidelines and underneath. Splitting the safeties or attacking the seams will be both dangerous and risky. But a decent play action at the right time could help remedy that, as they are both very aggressive.
- Forcing Colin Kaepernick to win the game will be important. In my honest opinion the Rams' chances of winning greatly increases if the game rests in his hands. But to do this the Rams must play smart on first and second down, all game long. This team struggles with the pass rush as much as anyone. This could be the game where the pass rush really gets after it. Kaepernick makes most of his errant throws when he is being harassed.
- The corners are going to have their hands full, as this is by far the most tenured and experienced receiving core they have faced, and will face all year. There is not a lot of speed amongst them, which is what makes them so scary. They're good because they are all savvy vets with exceptional route running skills. Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin, Stevie Johnson, and Brandon Llyod as a group has 11 1,000 yard season, and a handful of Pro Bowls. Lamarcus Joyner has struggled at times, and will need to step up or be picked on. Janoris Jenkins will need to continue his strong start, and even take it up a notch. E.J. Gaines will need to continue his weekly progression and play smart and loose. It sure would be nice to have Trumaine Johnson make a surprise return this week.
For the regular season, it doesn't get any better than Monday night football. The world will be watching, and with the Rams now down two games, they will have to pull out all the stops. Don't be surprised to Jeff Fisher call some of his beloved trick plays in this one. It should be a classic dog fight, and I for one am looking forward to it!