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Frank Gore: Shedding Light On Gore's Stats

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With the drafting of Carlos Hyde, combined with his age, many have written off Frank Gore. I have not.

I’ve even seen people unintentionally mislead others by pointing out that over the first eight games of 2013, Gore averaged 4.32 yards per carry but over the remaining eight games he only averaged 3.92 yards per carry. They point to those two stats as evidence that Gore is on a decline.

That’s a too simplistic way of looking at Gore’s 2013 production. And those stats are somewhat misleading and only get into the epidermis of Gore’s 2013 season.

Let’s go ahead and pierce the epidermis and dermis and get nasty with Gore’s subcutaneous fat. Sounds good, right?

As we all know, the 49ers did well last season. In fact, they kicked the sh*t outta just about everyone they played.

Of their 12 wins last year, they won by more than a touchdown in nine of those games. That’s important to know when breaking down Gore’s stats.

The Breakdown:

When the 49ers were ahead by eight points or fewer, Gore had 94 rushing attempts. With those 94 rushing attempts, Gore pounded out 391 yards (4.2 YPC) and 4 scores.

When San Francisco was behind by eight or fewer points, Gore had 38 rushing attempts, good for 231 yards (6.1 YPC) and a score.

In other words, when the game was close, Gore was productive. He hammered out 622 yards on 132 carries (4.7 YPC) and five touchdowns. No one can argue against that type of performance.

Let’s get a little deeper into that Gore-fat I talked about earlier.

When the 49ers were ahead by 9-16 points, Gore’s yards per carry dropped by a full yard than when the game was close. Those are the carries people key in on. But those are the carries that don’t matter as much.

In games where San Francisco was winning by 9-16 points, Gore rushed for only 155 yards on 42 carries (3.7 YPC) and had one touchdown.

Read between the lines here. Or don’t and just read this: In those instances (when the Niners were winning by 9 or more points), everyone in the stadium knew a run play was coming. Of course his yards per carry would drop in those situations.

And taking this Gore-fat thing even further, let’s look at where on the field he was when he was productive versus unproductive. That’s actually getting past the Gore-fat and into the man’s bone marrow.

Field Position:

Gore Field_Position

When the 49ers were on their side of the field (1- to 50-yard line), Gore did the most damage. He looked like a 24-year old running back rushing for 675 yards on 138 carries. Folks, that’s a 4.9 YPC average.

As the Niners shrunk the field, so did Gore’s YPC.

Gore ran the ball 81 times between opponents’ 20- to 49-yard lines. He gained 292 yards in that area, good for a 3.6 YPC average.

Inside opponents’ red zone, Gore’s YPC shriveled even more. He had a total of 90 carries and only gained 220 yards (2.4 YPC).

And inside the 10-yard line, Gore’s YPC had major shrinkage. I’m talking George Costanza shrinkage.

I trust I don’t have to be Captain Obvious and tell you why his YPC withered away the closer the Niners got to the end zone.

Timeshare:

“But Gore is going to be in a timeshare with Carlos Hyde.”

So what? He’s always been in a timeshare. I’ll breakdown the Frank Gore timeshare without you sitting through a painful 4-hour timeshare sales pitch.

For the past three years (because that’s as far back as I’m willing to go this morning), Gore has been sharing a significant amount of carries.

In 2011, the Niners ran the ball a total of 498 times. Gore got it stuffed in his belly 282 times (56.6%). Gore’s minions (Kendall Hunter and Anthony Dixon) combined for 141 rushing attempts (28.3%).

In 2012, Gore received 52.4% of the Niners’ 492 total rushing attempts, while his minions got 24.4% of the carries.

And last season, Gore’s 276 rushing attempts accounted for 54.7% of San Francisco’s 505 total running plays. The Hunter/Dixon/James trio had 118 carries (23.4%) and Colin Kaepernick had 92 carries (18.2%). 

Enter Carlos Hyde. He’ll get what Hunter, Dixon and James got last season: about 120 carries. As you can see, that won’t be anything new for Gore.

Gore will still get his 1,000+ yards and 8-10 TDs. So if you’re discounting Gore because of some saying he fell off during the second half of the season, please stop. Gore was effective throughout the year.

Apparent Decline:

Let me first dispel of the notion that Gore declined as the year wore on. He didn't.

As I said earlier, Gore had a 4.32 YPC average over the first eight games of the season and 3.92 YPC for the remaining eight games. But if you take out his final game against Arizona's top-ranked rush defense where he rushed 13 times for 14 yards, he had a 4.24 YPC average for the final seven games of the season. There's no real dropoff there.

And some point to Gore's 3.42 YPC average he had during the NFL Playoffs, but that stat is somewhat misleading too.

First of all, it's the NFL Playoffs and has nothing to do with your fantasy season. But even just looking at Gore's performance, it wasn't all that bad.

For the first two games of the playoffs, Gore combined for 37 rushes and 150 yards, or 4.05 YPC. Not a tremendous dropoff considering it's Game 17 and 18 for Gore.

It was Gore's final game versus the Seahawks that really drove down his YPC. He had 11 rushes for 14 yards (1.27 YPC) in that 19th game. He ran the ball seven times in the first half, four times in the 3rd quarter and zero in the 4th quarter. 

Even with those speculating that Gore could get around only 225 carries this year, that still puts him right around 1,000 yards rushing. Only 13 running backs breached the 1,000-yard mark in 2013. And on one of the most prolific offenses in the league, he'll have plenty of opportunities to score. 

Instead of taking a Doug Martin in the second round or Rashad Jennings in the third round, wait for Gore in the fifth and get the same production.  

Cedric Hopkins

Cedric Hopkins Bio

Cedric Hopkins runs this sports law/fantasy football blog. If you have issues with it, it's all his fault. Cedric was an athlete-student at the University of New Mexico (Basketball - Go Lobos!). He then morphed into a student-athlete when he attended law school in San Diego. Age replaced athleticism and now he writes appellate briefs for criminals (alleged criminals, of course) in state and federal cases, including writing U.S. Supreme Court briefs.

For years Cedric has researched and written about legal issues but maintained a love for sports. With FieldandCourt.com, he's combining his two passions: researching and writing about sports. When he's not in court arguing a case before a judge (or writing about himself in the third person), he'll be doing the same with his articles on FieldandCourt.com. Follow me, er, him on Twitter (opens in a new window).

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Cedric Hopkins

Cedric Hopkins runs this sports law/fantasy football blog. If you have issues with it, it's all his fault. Cedric was an athlete-student at the University of New Mexico (Basketball - Go Lobos!). He then morphed into a student-athlete when he attended law school in San Diego. Age replaced athleticism and now he writes appellate briefs for criminals (alleged criminals, of course) in state and federal cases, including writing U.S. Supreme Court briefs.

For years Cedric has researched and written about legal issues but maintained a love for sports. With FieldandCourt.com, he's combining his two passions: researching and writing about sports. When he's not in court arguing a case before a judge (or writing about himself in the third person), he'll be doing the same with his articles on FieldandCourt.com. Follow me, er, him on Twitter (opens in a new window).