Colts-49ers matchup No. 3: Gore vs. Colts run defense

Roman: Production, execution not where it needs to be

Colts-49ers matchup No. 3: Gore vs. Colts run defense
September 20, 2013, 6:45 am
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Sixty yards on 30 carries is Frank Gore's worst opening to a season since he became a starter. (USA TODAY IMAGES)


Pat Angerer has been plagued by injuries since his breakout season in 2011. He recorded 11 tackles win Week 2. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

Editor's note: This is the first part in a series that spotlights three 49ers-Colts matchups to watch Sunday, 1:25 p.m., at Candlestick Park. (Originally, the matchup was Gore vs. middle linebacker Pat Angerer, but Angerer is listed as doubtful for the game with a knee injury).

49ers RB Frank Gore vs. Colts run defense

Tale of the tape
Gore (21): 5 foot 9, 217 pounds, ninth season, Miami (Fla.)
Colts run defense: 60 rushes for 272 yards (4.5 avg) with three touchdowns

Sixty yards on 30 carries.

[RELATED: Frank Gore career stats | 2013 game logs

It’s the worst opening to a season since Frank Gore became a starter. And it’s his second-lowest output in back-to-back games at any point in eight seasons as the 49ers' featured back.

On Sunday, Gore gained just 16 yards on nine rushing attempts in the 49ers’ 29-3 loss to the Seahawks.

“I’m frustrated about the loss, really,” Gore said. “But we got to get better in the running game. We got to get it done. A lot of teams are playing us eight, nine men in the box. But we got to get it done.

“They’re playing the run hard. They know past years we have ran the ball great. You watch the film and you see eight, nine men in the box. That’s one of the biggest things. We got to find a way to get it done.”

Gore and the 49ers will look to get the run game going on Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts. The guys up front must block the likes of former 49ers defensive tackles Aubrayo Franklin and Ricky Jean Francois in order to get Gore to the second level.

The Colts are not expected to have two of their top tacklers in the lineup. Safety LaRon Landry is out with an ankle injury, while middle linebacker Pat Angerer is listed as doubtful with a knee injury. Angerer is coming off a game in which he recorded 11 tackles, mostly against Miami Dolphins running back Lamar Miller, in the Colts’ 24-20 loss.

The 49ers figure to come right at the heart of the Colts defense on Sunday in the run game. Indianapolis surrendered 4.5 yards and three rushing touchdowns in the first two games of the season.

“We definitely want to get Frank Gore going,” offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. “Frank Gore’s one of the best backs in the league and one of our leaders. . . . Frank Gore’s going to be a big part of what we do this year. Frank churning out those yards for us is very important to our success.”

[RELATED: Pat Angerer career stats | 2013 game logs]

But the yards, simply, have not been there for Gore (shown, below right), the franchise’s all-time leading rusher with 8,899 yards in his nine-year career. The 49ers’ first two opponents, Green Bay and Seattle, geared their defenses to slow down the 49ers’ run game.

"If they’re playing eight man in the box, we’re going to throw it,” Gore said. “I’m a team guy. I’m going to do whatever it takes to win. If it’s passing, if we can win with passing, I’m happy with it. If it’s running, if we win, I’m happy with that, too.”

Said Roman, “I’d say we’ve seen a little of that and that’s not really that new. But if they overplay it, I don’t know that we’re just going to bang our head into a brick wall all day. We want to give our players a chance to be successful.”

Gore has three receptions for 35 yards, but he’s found other ways to contribute in the passing game. He has been in pass protection on 32 snaps, according to Pro Football Focus, and he has yet to allow a quarterback pressure while blocking for quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Still, there’s little question the 49ers’ goal Sunday is to create some openings for Gore between the tackles. Then, it's up to Gore to win his head-to-head matchup against the Angerer, the Colts' best tackler.

“It’s tough on Frank because that’s our guy. He’s our workhorse,” fullback Bruce Miller said. “He puts the team on his back and he carries us most of the time. So if he’s struggling, it’s not Frank. He’s one of the best in the league. It’s more us and the guys up front.”

In line photo of Frank Gore provided by USA Today Images