Does Smith's passing take defensive focus off Gore?

January 18, 2012, 6:12 pm
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SANTA CLARA -- The New Orleans Saints stacked the line of scrimmage on Saturday. And they haven't been alone with that defensive approach against the 49ers.Some teams this season have dared the 49ers to put the ball in quarterback Alex Smith's hands to win the game."How did that work out for them?" 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman asked following the 49ers' 36-32 victory Saturday over the New Orleans Saints -- a game in which Smith threw for 299 yards.
Smith attempted 42 passes, completing 24, and was sacked four times against the Saints. Meanwhile, running backs Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter attempted just 13 and six rushes for 89 and 23 yards, respectively.REWIND: Divisional Playoff -- Saints vs. 49ers box score
So will Smith's impressive final four minutes on Saturday, during which time he led the 49ers on touchdown drives totaling 165 yards, do anything to change the mindsets of opposing defenses? And might it create more running room for Gore?"As long as Alex keeps doing what he's doing, we're going to be fine," Gore said. "We're a complete team. As long as we keep taking it one game at a time, one play at a time, we'll get there."RELATED: Alex Smith game logs
The next stop is a return game Sunday against the New York Giants in the NFC Championship Game at Candlestick Park. The game figures to be played on a wet and muddy field. Gore, with a low center of gravity, good balance and a north-south approach, might be able to cope with the conditions.When the 49ers and Giants met Nov. 13, Gore was held without any yards on six attempts. He left the game late in the second quarter with a knee contusion.REWIND: Giants vs. 49ers -- Week 10 box score
In that game, which the 49ers won 27-20, the offenseturned to Smith, who completed 19 of 30 passes for 242 yards with one touchdown and one interception.The Giants run defense ranked 23rd in the NFL during the regular season in average per rush attempt at 4.5 yards. In the playoffs, New York stiffened against Atlanta's Michael Turner, allowing 41 yards rushing on 15 rushing attempts (2.7 average). Green Bay's leading rusher against the Giants was quarterback Aaron Rodgers with seven scrambles for 66 yards.

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