In the last two seasons, the San Francisco 49ers are 2-0 against the Seattle Seahawks when Frank Gore runs for 100 yards. The 49ers are 0-2 when he’s been all but shutdown by Seattle’s defense.
While who will win the NFC Championship game on Sunday probably won’t be as easily determined as whether Gore puts 100-plus on the board, it’s obviously that stopping Gore will be a primary focus for the Seahawks.
“If you stop the run that’s key, especially with these guys,” Seattle defensive end Cliff Avril said. Frank Gore is a heck of a back and the biggest thing for us is being sound and playing discipline. Not trying to do too much like getting out of your gaps and trying to make that extra play or whatever because he will definitely pick us apart if you do that.
Gore’s 51-yard scamper in the fourth quarter against Seattle in Week 14 set up Phil Dawson’s game-winning field goal to hand San Francisco a 19-17 victory over the Seahawks. Gore finished the game with 110 yards on 17 carries.
The Seahawks shut Gore down in their first matchup in Seattle. Gore had just 16 yards on nine carries as Seattle put the game into the hands of Colin Kaepernick.
Kaepernick has thrown just 11 regular season interceptions since taking over as the 49ers starting quarterback last season. Four of those interceptions have come in Seattle against the Seahawks. Seattle intercepted Kaepernick three times in their 29-3 victory over the 49ers in Week 2. It’s the only time in his career Kaepernick has thrown multiple interceptions in a game. When Gore is ineffective, it puts the game in Kaepernick’s hands. With a secondary as strong as Seattle’s, that plays right into the Seahawks hands.
It was the same way a year ago for the two games between the teams. In San Francisco, Gore ran for 131 yards on 16 carries. 49ers win 13-6. In Seattle, Gore was held to 28 yards on six carries. Seahawks win 42-13.
“Their whole offense gets started with that run game,” linebacker Bobby Wagner said. “Our job is to not allow them to run the ball. I think if we stop the run and force them to be one-dimensional it will work in our favor.”
The game won’t purely be decided based on how Gore fares against Seattle’s defense. However, if the 49ers hope to earn their second straight Super Bowl appearance, Gore’s success will likely be one of the key factors of the game.