When the 49ers run
Frank Gore not only looks angry (check out any of his bio pictures), he runs angry. The 5-foot-9-inch, 217-pound ball of muscle is among the best inside power runners on the planet. Gore has great vision; if there’s a crease, he’ll find it. But he also possesses the power to create his own creases.
You are wasting your time if you try to arm-tackle him. He loves to get physical, and you’ll never see him take the easy way out. Gore has exceptional breakaway speed (especially impressive, given that he has blown out ACLs in both knees) but can also push the pile on third and short.
LaMichael James (5-9, 195) has excellent quickness and speed. He is at his best in space (he’s too fragile to bang inside), and if he can turn the corner, he’ll be a memory. The interior linemen are pretty good. Center Jonathan Goodwin (he’s quick and aggressive) and guards Mike Iupati (he’s big and powerful) and Alex Boone (he’s huge but lacks speed) will create running lanes and pick off linebackers.
The great and powerful Haloti Ngata (6-4, 340) sets the tone up front for the Baltimore bad boys. A massive space eater, Ngata is surprisingly quick on his feet. He can take on more than one blocker but he can also shoot gaps and disrupt runners in the backfield. Terrence Cody (6-4, 341) is another effective widebody, but he wears down quickly.
The inside linebackers are always around the ball. Ray Lewis (you may have heard about him) and Dannell Ellerbe (you may not have) are an excellent tandem. Lewis has uncanny instincts and he’s still quicker than most. He shows great range and still packs a wallop. Ellerbe is quick and aggressive.
Rushing yards per game (postseason)
San Francisco offense: 236.0 (first)
Baltimore defense: 128.3