Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
PHOENIX -- Frank Gore finished the 49ers' regular-season opener with a horrendous stat line: 22 carries for 30 yards, 1. 4 yards per carry.
Was he really that ineffective?
Yes and no. A few things stood out when I broke down the 49ers' personnel use across situations:
Gore gained at least 3 yards on six of his 10 first-down carries. Those carries included a 6-yard touchdown run. Not great, but good enough for a 2.6-yard average.
Gore carried nine times for 6 yards -- .67 yards per attempt -- on second down. That was only part of the story.
The 49ers ran the ball seven times in nine second-down snaps when they needed fewer than 10 yards for a first down (the two pass plays produced an incompletion and 14-yard sack).
The 49ers passed nine times in 11 second-down snaps when they needed 10 or more yards for a first down.
The 49ers converted all five third-down plays when they needed between 3 and 5 yards for a first down. They converted only twice in 11 third-down plays when they needed more than 5 yards for a first down, taking three sacks and losing a fumble on those plays. Better production on second down is critical for the 49ers to sustain drives.
The 49ers never used four wide receivers at a time. The chart shows their use of four primary personnel groups. The lone three-receiver group was what the 49ers used frequently on third down. I suspect they would be using more three-receiver personnel groupings if Michael Crabtree and Brandon Jones were available.
I have made available for download a full 49ers offensive personnel report (also here if you have any trouble downloading from the other link). One sheet shows each play. Another sheet shows summary information across personnel groups.