Entering Saturday night's Week 16 contest, Frank Gore's odds of eclipsing 1,000 yards on the season appeared somewhat slim.
After all, the veteran running back had only recorded two 100-yard games this year – and none since Oct. 5.
But with two games remaining and needing 196 rushing yards to break into four-digit territory, Gore turned in a vintage performance against the San Diego Chargers.
Amassing 158 yards on 26 carries, the 31-year-old moved to within 38 yards of his fourth straight 1,000-yard season and eighth overall. If he reaches the milestone next Sunday versus the Arizona Cardinals, he'll become just the 11th running back in NFL history to rush for eight 1,000-yard seasons.
Predictably, Gore gave the credit for his breakout night to the men blocking in front of him.
"My whole offensive line was there," Gore said. "My o-line dominated their d-line tonight."
Gore's stellar game highlighted a record-breaking night for the 49ers on the ground. San Francisco finished the game with a franchise-record 355 rushing yards. Colin Kaepernick was the team's second-leading rusher with 151 yards.
The ground attack helped the 49ers build a 21-point halftime lead, but the Chargers came roaring back in the second half to push the game past regulation.
"It's tough," Gore said. "We played hard, but I have to tip my hat to them. They made plays, and they got the win. It has been a tough year for our team, but we are still fighting and that is all we can do now. Next week, we have to get ready for Arizona. We know they are going to be a tough opponent who wants to finish their season off right."
Prior to Saturday night, Gore's season-high in rushing came on Sept. 28 versus the Philadelphia Eagles, when he amassed with 119 yards on 24 carries. On this night, he surpassed that total by the end of the second quarter (129 yards on 14 carries). Gore's highlight moment of the game happened when he broke free for a 52-yard touchdown run less than two minutes after kickoff.
"I was just playing football," Gore said. "I just wanted to make a play. My offensive line got me through the hole, and our receivers did a great job blocking down field."
Despite the tough loss, Gore's teammates were happy for the veteran 'back, who registered his 38th career game over 100 yards or more.
"It's awesome," fullback Bruce Miller said. "All the things that have been said and he comes out and plays like that. You don't see anything slowing down. The guy plays his tail off the whole game and is one of the best runners that has ever been."
Said left tackle Joe Staley to the Mercury News: "Hopefully I'll get the invitation to go to Canton one day and sit in the stands and hear his (Hall of Fame) acceptance speech."