San Francisco went from having the No. 8 rushing attack in 2011 to the league’s No. 4 ground game in 2012. The production figures to remain high once again as the 2013 season approaches. Last year, the 49ers totaled 2,491 rushing yards and 17 rushing scores in Greg Roman’s second season as the team’s offensive coordinator. The improved numbers can be attributed first and foremost to the consistent performances of
Gore rushed for 1,214 yards to go along with eight rushing scores in the regular season. In the postseason, Gore added 319 rushing yards and four touchdowns, including two crucial rushing touchdowns in the team’s NFC Championship Game win over the Atlanta Falcons. In that game, special teams contributor
[ PHOTOS - 49ERS CAMP PREVIEW: RUNNING BACKS ]
Behind Gore, the focal point of the ground game, the 49ers received key production from Hunter, a second-year player who suffered a season-ending injury in Week 12 of the regular season. Hunter picked up 371 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns prior to an Achilles injury. He also averaged 5.2 yards per carry, the sixth-best average in the NFL at the time of his injury. Following Hunter’s setback, James, the team’s second-round draft pick in 2012, asserted himself late in the regular season and proved to be a valued contributor in the 49ers creative offensive system. James worked perfectly alongside Kaepernick in the team's "Pistol" offensive attack.
RETURNERS: Frank Gore (ninth season), Bruce Miller (third season), Kendall Hunter (third season), LaMichael James (second season),
The group should benefit from another offseason in Roman’s diverse running system. The 49ers have maintained their top-flight rushing attack while adding a downfield passing game with Kaepernick under center. Gore has spoken positively about his hunger to produce at the age of 30 and feels like Kaepernick’s dual-threat ability will open up running lanes in between the hashmarks. Hunter, meanwhile, has rehabbed vigorously to the point where he was sprinting and cutting during offseason workouts. He has yet to join the team for practice, but is close to returning to action. Lattimore, the popular rookie out of South Carolina, continued to rehab his own knee injury in the offseason and has been told to take a cautious approach to his return to the field. The 49ers appear to have strong depth at the running back position and will look to develop Lattimore has another do-it-all running back. However, the timetable for his 49ers debut remains to be seen.
When working in tandem, Gore and Hunter have become one of the NFL’s most formidable one-two punches. The 49ers are 20-1-1 when the duo combines for 20 or more carries in a game.
“With a new offense I think Kap freed me up a lot. I’ll be fine this year.”
-Gore on his expectations for this coming season.