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As the San Francisco 49ers (4-2) turn their focus to a week 7 matchup against the Tennessee Titans (3-3), they will be looking to extend their winning streak to four. A game that will be played on the road at LP Field, the game will be one in which two Pro Bowl running backs will be featured. On one sideline you have 49ers RB Frank Gore. The player known as the “Inconvenient Truth,” Gore will likely be the focal point of the offense on Sunday as QB Colin Kaepernick continues to get back on track. Through six games this season, Gore has reached the century mark two times, with 153 and 101 yards respectively. If the 49ers are to come out winners in Tennessee, they will need to win their battles down in the trenches, as Gore hits the second level.
Then you have the Titans RB Chris Johnson. A three-time Pro Bowl talent, Johnson has yet to reach the century mark this year. However, Johnson has been known to be a streaky runner as of late, and is due for a big game. In Johnson’s last three games he has a measly 37 carries for 71 yards. Not to mention, Johnson has yet to reach the end zone, Johnson will be looking to change that on Sunday.
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So with two running backs being the focal point of their respective offenses, how will Gore fare against the Titans? Going up against the No. 18 rush defense in the NFL, it will be hard to gauge as they have only allowed one 100-yard rusher this season. With that said, I expect Gore to break the mold and have a big game on Sunday.
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A very underrated front seven led by third-year DT Jurrell Casey and second-year veteran OLB Zack Brown, the Titans defense will be looking to shut down the Niners running game. Last week saw the Seattle Seahawks face this problem at home, as RB Marshawn Lynch was uncharacteristically held to 77 yards on 21 carries. However, Lynch did break free for two touchdowns and I expect Gore to do the same.
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In Gore’s last four games, he has 73 carries for 417 yards and two touchdowns. That’s an impressive 5.71 yards per rush. A great indication that the offensive line is coming into their own, they will need to continue to feed Gore the ball and impose their will. Collectively, the Titans defense plays extremely well. They are disciplined, aggressive, and tough. But they have yet to face an offensive line like the 49ers. An offensive line that is tough, nasty, and physical, the Niners goons should keep the Titans defense in check.
An offensive line that helps boast the No. 5 ranked rushing attack in the NFL, the Niners should be able to run the ball on Sunday. Since head coach Jim Harbaugh took over in 2011, Gore has only had one game in which he had 20 carries in back-to-back games. And with Gore coming off a performance in which he carried the ball 25 times for 101 yards against the Arizona Cardinals, you can be sure Harbaugh will be monitoring Gore’s touches closely. In 12 games under Harbaugh in which Gore came off a 20 carry output, he has recorded 160 carries for 787 yards and six touchdowns. In addition, only two out of the 12 games have resulted in Gore hitting the 100-yard mark, a feat that was done twice in 2011.
As the 49ers prepare for the Titans stingy defense, look for Gore to get around 15 carries for 60 yards and two touchdowns, as the Niners will try to run Gore early in hopes of wearing down the Titans defense in the fourth quarter.
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