Against the Carolina Panthers in week seven, the 49ers neglected to execute a gameplan many thought was the one to go with. The Panthers had one of the league's worst rushing defense, coupled with a top five ranking in shutting down the pass. Rostering one of the better running backs in the league in Frank Gore, it only made sense that the Niners would hit the ground running and punish the Panthers with four quarters of hard running. That didn't end up happening, as the 49ers took the field slinging the ball around and having nothing to show for it.
Now, they face a Buccaneers defense that is presently 31st in the league against the run, giving up an average of 143.8 yards per game on the season. That's a number Frank Gore can take to the bank, even given the Buccaneers slow creep towards better numbers of late. They did hold the Carolina Panthers from some staggering total, but still gave up over 100 yards. The Bucs however, won that game handily.
So it will take a little more than just Frank Gore to win this game for San Francisco, but he should be the player to watch going into the game. Over the last three games, the Buccaneers have allowed 116 yards per, and play better away than they do at home, with a 124.5 average against 159.2. Only the Buffalo Bills have worse numbers in regards to run defense.
Gameplan-wise, the 49ers should be going out there and running the ball hard. They need to open up the play action and utilize Delanie Walker some more on the swings and screens after his stellar performance versus the St. Louis Rams, this will open up Frank Gore or even Brian Westbrook some more on outside runs, which the 49ers should be utilizing more now that opposing teams have keyed in on rookie left guard Mike Iupati and the team's propensity for pulling runs in his direction.
For fantasy information regarding the 49ers start-or-sit situation, I talked a bit about that yesterday.