Around the NFC West: Gore's trajectory

Around the NFC West: Dec. 27, 2012

The San Francisco 49ers' Frank Gore wasn't a factor for the 49ers on Sunday night in Seattle.

That had more to do with how the game unfolded than how Gore ran with the football. The 49ers fell behind 14-0 in the first quarter and 28-6 by halftime.

Gore carried only six times as a result.

There is no question, however, that Gore and tight end Vernon Davis are among those adjusting their games since the 49ers changed from Alex Smith to Colin Kaepernick at quarterback. Using the pistol formation more frequently changes the way Gore approaches the running game.

"Some plays you just don't know if he's going to keep [the ball] or not," Gore said Wednesday, according to Cam Inman. "I've got to be patient and can't hit the hole that fast in the pistol."

Gore has averaged 5.5 yards per carry this season when Smith was in the game at quarterback. He has averaged 4.0 yards per game with Kaepernick behind center.

Those numbers, courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information, break down this way: 123 carries for 682 yards and four touchdowns with Smith, compared to 115 carries for 464 yards and three scores with Kaepernick.

Of course, the entire running game has changed since the team lost Kendall Hunter to a season-ending injury.

Other factors could be affecting the change. Perhaps Gore is wearing down some.

Since 2006, Gore has averaged slightly more yards per carry early in seasons than late in seasons (4.8 in the first eight games, compared to 4.5 in the second eight). He has averaged 4.4 yards per carry in the first four games of seasons and 5.2 yards per carry over the fifth through eighth games. His averages level off to 4.5 yards per carry over the final two quarters of seasons.

At the very least, this is a subject to monitor heading into the playoffs.