Frank Gore Is Most Important Player in San Francisco 49ers Offense

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 2, 2013

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 20:  Frank Gore #21 and his son walk off the field after the San Francisco 49ers defeat the Atlanta Falcons 28-24 in the NFC Championship game at the Georgia Dome on January 20, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Frank Gore needs to perform in Super Bowl XLVII if the San Francisco 49ers are to have any chance of winning.

Lost in the hype around Colin Kaepernick's stellar postseason has been how reliable Gore was in the divisional round and NFC Championship Game.

In two postseason games, Gore has rushed for 209 yards and three touchdowns. Even more impressively, he's averaged 5.1 yards a carry during the playoffs.

That's the kind of reliability he's shown his entire career. Few running backs in the NFL have been as consistent as Gore over the past few years. He's rushed for over 1,000 yards in six of his eight seasons in the league.

Gore is the kind of workhorse the 49ers can really use in the Super Bowl.

Kaepernick hasn't shown any sort of nervousness whatsoever in the postseason. There's nothing that would make you think he'll crumble under the weight of the pressure in the Super Bowl.

With two weeks to prepare, though, you'd expect John Harbaugh and Dean Pees will be able to come up with a defense that will slow Kaepernick down in a way that no other team has been able to do this season.

In order to take some of the offensive burden off the second-year quarterback, Gore will need to have a good game. He can also help to compensate should Kaepernick struggle a little bit for the first time this season.

Even in the chance Kaepernick has a great game, the quarterback can't win the game alone. The Baltimore Ravens are too good defensively to be beaten by only a one-dimensional offense.

He's not going to find the same kind of running room the Green Bay Packers allowed him.

Tom Brady and Peyton Manning both had solid performances. Those are two of the best quarterbacks in the league, but they weren't enough to get past the Ravens.

Part of the reason the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots are sitting at home was that they didn't have a running back like Gore who could carry the ball 20-plus times and eclipse 100 yards. The Broncos and Patriots relied a bit too much on their passing games, and it cost them.

Slowly but surely, Gore can wear down the Ravens defense. Then, when the Baltimore players are tired late in the game, Kaepernick can beat the secondary over the top.

Gore's running can also benefit his defense.

With Joe Flacco having such a great postseason, it's imperative the 49ers keep him off the field. Although San Francisco had one of the best defenses in the league during the regular season, Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan both had good games against the 49ers.

Ryan's 396 yards and three touchdowns were nearly enough to get past San Francisco. A similar performance from from Flacco would almost certainly mean the 49ers' demise in Super Bowl XLVII.

Kaepernick has been a huge part of why the 49ers are in the Super Bowl. If they're to get over the top on Sunday, though, it will be on the back of Gore.