One of the longest tenured players on the Seattle Seahawks roster, outside linebacker Leroy Hill has had plenty of run-ins with San Francisco running back Frank Gore, dating back to the time Hill played at Clemson and Gore at the University of Miami.
“I’ve got so much respect for him,” Hill said about Gore, a three-time Pro Bowler. “He’s one of I think the top backs in the league. But he doesn’t get the recognition I think he deserves.
“He runs hard. They’re a running offense, so he’s definitely the featured player. A lot of people talk about (tight end) Vernon Davis, but I think Frank Gore is more of the offense than Vernon.”
That’s something that Davis freely admits to as well.
“Frank Gore is a tremendous running back,” Davis said. “I wouldn’t want to replace him for anyone. He’s a hard worker who’s been through a lot, and he helps the team in many ways.
“He’s a true threat to anybody that we play, so you have to account for him. It’s a blessing to have him on my side.”
Gore has the most rushing yards against Seattle than any other team in the league, with 1,079 in 12 games – a 5.4 per carry average.
Gore has twice rushed for over 200 yards against Seattle. This season, he’s the No. 10 leading rusher in the league heading into Week 7, with 470 yards on 87 carries for a 5.4 per carry average.
Gore has four touchdowns on the year, and leads a San Francisco rushing attack that’s tops in the NFL, averaging 176.8 yards per contest.
While Gore has played well against Seattle over the years, the Seahawks have done better against him of late. Seattle held Gore to an average of 71 yards a game in two contests last year.
So how do you slow Gore down?
“You got to hit him hard and hit him early,” Seattle linebacker K.J. Wright said. “Let him know that it’s not going to be your day to get a bunch of running yards. We’re going to come out and set the tone, and make sure he doesn’t get rolling.”
Seattle defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said it’s important that his unit remains disciplined by making sure they fill all of the run gaps up front.
“He hits the hole right where he needs to hit it every time, and he’s going 100 miles per hour every time,” Bradley said. “And if you’re not in your gap. … he has the ability to break a big one at any time.
“They do so many things offensively, and you’re trying to jockey some guys around so you’re in the right leverage and the right position, but you always have that in the back of your mind. If you try to do that too much, are you giving him enough of a space to where he can break a big one?”
Hill said an added twist that Seattle will face this week is San Francisco’s ability to use extra tight ends and bigger personnel to move the Seahawks off the ball.
“Now they’re bringing in extra tackles,” Hill said. “They have defensive tackles at fullback. So they’re letting you know, ‘We’re going to run the ball; you’ve got to stop us.’
“They put their big men in and just come straight at you.”