Gore's added role against Packers: Blitz prevention

SANTA CLARA — Things are a lot more complex for 49ers’ halfback Frank Gore than just taking the handoff and running with the football.

Gore is the team’s every-down running back and leading rusher with 551 yards and six touchdowns. He is also second on the team with 26 pass receptions for 211 yards and a touchdown.

But Gore will have just as much responsibility Sunday against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field when the ball does not come his way.

In the Packers’ conversion to a 3-4 defensive scheme, defensive end Aaron Kampman, who has 39½ sacks in the past 3½ seasons, lines up at outside linebacker. In some cases Sunday, Gore will have the responsibility of stepping up to block Kampman in pass protection.

“They create a mismatch over there on that side with a back trying to block a defensive lineman off of a two-point stance,” 49ers offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye said.

Gore takes pride in being a complete running back, including his efficiency in blitz pickup. The Packers offer a challenge because he might find himself responsible for picking up a corner blitz, a linebacker up the middle or Kampman on the edge.

“I just have to know what I’m doing,” Gore said. “They bring a lot of pressure. As long as I feel I know what I’m doing and what man to block. I’m going to try my best to block him.”

The 49ers on Thursday concluded their significant on-field practice work for facing the Packers. But the team will have two brief low-speed workouts that are designed for review today and Saturday before taking the field. Green Bay defensive coordinator Dom Capers has a lot of variations on his scheme, so the 49ers are grateful to have additional time to prepare.

“When you are getting ready for a game like this where they do some extra things that you might need a little extra time to prepare for,” 49ers coach Mike Singletary said. “It just gives the guys that extra film time, extra time to visit with their position coach or coordinator, and just get a feel for any little thing that you can possibly solve.”

It is not uncommon for 217-pound Gore to be matched against a much bigger man in pass protection. Kampman played defensive end his first seven NFL seasons at around 260 pounds.

“I just have to attack — get as close as I can before he can make moves, attack and keep working,” Gore said.
Gore is coming of his best back-to-back games this season. In games against Tennessee and Chicago, Gore gained 187 yards and two touchdowns on 40 rushing attempts.

The 49ers have started to run the ball out of the shotgun formation, something they did not do earlier in the season. He has 112 yards on 16 carries out of the shotgun, including two direct snaps that gained 38 yards.

“It makes no difference to me,” Gore said. “I feel like I can run in the ‘I’ (formation), shotgun and ‘Wildcat.’ I feel you have to be more patient in the shotgun. You know the first read and you can see the defense better. But it doesn’t matter to me.”

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