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49ers running game remains a concern despite win vs. St. Louis

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Immediately after the 49ers win over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday, running back Frank Gore wasn't the most happy. When speaking to him in the locker room, he briskly packed his bags and left with a few quick words after not being satisfied with how the team couldn't run the ball.

"I don't know [about our] offense," Gore said at his locker after the game. "We gotta run the ball better. That [stuff] isn't going to get it done. [It doesn't matter if opponents stack the box or not, we] still gotta get it done. It's been a couple games right now."

Gore usually would point to the fact that the team won and wouldn't look at the stats. With the team winning two of the last three games, he wouldn't have the same cause for concern.

In the last three games against the New Orleans Saints, Washington Redskins and St. Louis Rams, Gore has only 121 rushing yards and is averaging three yards per carry. It has been a common trend where a running back in the NFL will decline when he hits the age of 30.

Age is not the issue here, as these running woes points to the fact that opposing defenses respect the 49ers ground game. Backup running back Kendall Hunter, who is 25, has 20 yards on 15 carries in the last three games. As a result, he is averaging a dismal 1.3 yards per carry.

All three opponents dared Colin Kaepernick to beat them straight up and it only succeeded the first time for the Saints. Rams LB James Laurinaitis admitted that was the game plan for their defense on Sunday in a losing effort.

"We had a goal to come in here and stop the run and I think we did that today," Laurinaitis said. "When you dare somebody to put it in Kaepernick’s hands, you’ve got to make plays. And he made more plays than we did."

Through the first half of the season, Gore was averaging 4.3 yards per carry. The biggest issue for the struggles is the loss of LG Mike Iupati, who has a sprained MCL. Gore hasn't been able to run to the left side as much as opposing defenses have closed the gaps.

With Adam Snyder stepping in at LG and Joe Looney becoming the RG with the injury to Joe Staley, expectations for the running game will be lowered with Seattle coming to Candlestick Park on Sunday. The 49ers offensive line did a great job at pass protection to give Kaepernick time.

San Francisco's passing game will receive the attention with Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis all on the field at the same time. Defenses will respect the passing game as Crabtree will get better with time, but the 49ers will need to run the ball to establish a more fluid passing game.

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