SANTA CLARA ? The 49ers? not-so-subtle move last week to an emphasis on the passing game was a decision that played well with most of the offense.
Tight ends Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker were certainly on board, as were wide receivers Michael Crabtree and Josh Morgan.
And, clearly, quarterback Alex Smith had no qualms with lining up in the shotgun formation for 25 of the 49ers? 38 plays in the first half against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
But running back Frank Gore might not have been so keen about the sudden shift in offensive philosophy. And coach Mike Singletary spoke with him about it.
Gore is the only player in 49ers history to gain more than 1,000 yards rushing in three consecutive seasons. But that streak might be in danger if the 49ers continue with their pass-first approach Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks.
?Any great player I?ve been around, whether it?s Walter Payton or a great receiver, Jerry Rice, whoever it might be, when they?re not getting the ball, they feel like they?re not contributing,? Singletary said.
Gore said he would keep private the details of his recent talk with Singletary. But he said all the right things publicly Wednesday when he spoke with the media.
?As long as we win, I?m fine with it,? said Gore, who has gained 643 yards rushing on 128 carries this season.
Gore experienced some success in running out of the 49ers? spread formation in games against Tennessee and Chicago. In those back-to-back games, 112 of his 187 rushing yards came out of the shotgun formation.
But after getting just seven rushing attempts against the Green Bay Packers on Nov.22, Gore had 33 yards on 16 carries last Sunday against the Jaguars. He is recognized as a one-cut runner who is at his best between the tackles. He does not have the kind of shifty style most would associate with a ballcarrier who would thrive in the slow-developing runs out of the shotgun formation.
?I can run out of any kind of offense,? Gore said. ?I know when my number is called, I do the best I can.?
The 49ers? eagerness to throw the ball last Sunday was at least partly influenced by their opponent. The Jaguars? pass rush is statistically the worst in the league, and they were playing without their top cornerback, Rashean Mathis. Seattle, like Jacksonville, ranks among the worst teams in the league in pass defense. But Gore has had great success through the years against the Seahawks.
?The guy can run out of any formation,? Seattle coach Jim Mora said. ?He?s an outstanding running back. Put him in that formation where you spread things out, it certainly makes it difficult to defend because they also have some threats out there catching the ball ? big-time threats. You have to defend more field, and that makes it difficult.?
The run game was inconsistent early in the season when defenses put the clamps on Gore. He often faced eight-man boxes, which made it difficult for the 49ers to find any creases.
But with the 49ers featuring more pass-oriented personnel groupings with a second tight end, Delanie Walker, replacing fullback Moran Norris, Gore said he is seeing fewer eight-man boxes.
?They can?t bring the safety down in the box, so that?s a plus,? Gore said.