Gore feels revitalized with Martz at controls

(08-30) 16:35 PDT -- Frank Gore is as giddy as a kid with a new 160-gig PlayStation 3 with DualShock 3 controller.

He's talking about the new playbook devised by offensive coordinator Mike Martz and an offense that he thinks will take maximum advantage of the 49ers' options.

"I love it, man," he said. "I've got a great feeling about it."

No longer, he feels, will opponents stack the box with everybody but the quality-control guy in their fever to stop the 5-foot-9, 217-pound running back. Last year, the 49ers' passing game worried nobody except the 49ers.

"You can't do that now," he said. "When we played Chicago, you saw guys you never heard of getting open and making good plays. Our second group was going against their best defense and doing what they wanted to to them."

The 49ers scored 37 points that night, their highest total in a preseason game since 1989. That's a sharp contrast to last year when, under coordinator Jim Hostler, the 49ers were last in the NFL in yards per game - nearly 40 yards worse than the second-worst offense.

"It would take us a whole half to cross the 50-yard line," Gore said.

Martz has completely repainted the picture. According to Gore, his offense gives players more flexibility to change their assignments on the fly
depending on what the defense does. "This gives us more options," he said. "It makes the game easy again."

Of course, Martz also walked in the door with instant credibility, based on his track record in St. Louis and Detroit.

"You saw in the past with your own eyes what his offense could do," Gore said. "We've got a new leader on the ship. When he stands up in the room, you know he knows what he's talking about. Everything's going to change this year."

He appreciates that Martz is an equal-opportunity critic in meetings.

"No matter what you have done in this league, he makes you feel like you still have to prove yourself," he said. "If I mess up he's going to get on me. That's what I like about him. He treats everybody the same."

Martz might be able to unleash more options than the 49ers could last year, but the top one remains Gore.

"I haven't seen anything he can't do," Martz said. "He's what we thought he'd be and more. He doesn't make mental errors. ... He's the kind of player to build an offense around."

Gore is an excellent receiver as well as a runner, prompting comparisons to Marshall Faulk, the record-setting all-purpose back for Martz's Rams. Martz said last week it's unfair to compare them; he didn't want to slight either one by doing so.

Then he proceeded to compare them: "They can both catch the ball and they're outstanding runners, but they're just different. Frank is a more physical and powerful back inside, and Marshall is very elusive."

Gore has learned not to set goals based on the accomplishments of other elite players. Shortly after finishing the 2006 season with a franchise-record 1,695 yards, he announced he was taking aim at Eric Dickerson's NFL record of 2,105 yards in 1984.

He barely got halfway, with 1,102 in 2007. He broke his hand in preseason when he caught it in a teammate's pads during a blocking drill. An ankle injury against the Giants in the sixth week forced him to play at "80-85 percent" almost the rest of the season, he said.

The death of his mother, Liz, to kidney disease the second week of the season was an even more devastating and lasting setback.

"It was very tough," he said. "After practice I'd look at my phone and (wouldn't) see a phone call from her. ... I'll never get over it, but I'm getting better."