Frank Gore's rushing average up the middle has declined from 5.2 yards per carry in 2009 to 3.7 last season to 2.1 through three games in 2011. However, the Eagles are allowing 6.2 yards per carry up the middle, the second-worst figure in the league, behind only the Washington Redskins (thoughts of Steven Jackson here). Gore's 2009 totals included 79- and 80-yard touchdown runs up the middle against Seattle in Week 2.
The 49ers' defense has held opponents to a league-low 2.97 yards per carry with seven or fewer defenders in the box. In other words, the 49ers haven't needed their secondary as primary run defenders. That makes for an interesting matchup against Eagles running back LeSean McCoy, who ranks second in rushing yards against defenses with fewer than eight defenders in the box.
2011 Rushing: Seven or Fewer in Box
I would expect the 49ers' rushing totals to improve as their offensive line plays together and learns coach Jim Harbaugh's offense. Harbaugh was known at Stanford for a running game featuring varied formations and personnel groupings.
The chart compares McCoy's production against defenses with seven or fewer defenders in the box to the 49ers' defense in those situations.