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Thursday, October 16, 2008
Mailbag: More carries for Gore, please

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Thanks for filling the mailbag. In the early days of this blog, I responded to almost every mailbag submission, usually in the mailbag itself. We're getting lots more submissions as the blog hopefully gains some momentum. I read them all, respond to many and use quite a few of them here in the mailbag. Thanks again for your contributions. Now, on to the mailbag ...

Adam from Onarga, Ill., writes: Frank Gore is averaging 4.9 yards a carry, yet he isn't getting the touches you would expect. Is Mike Martz still stuck in his woeful Lions mentality where the running back talent was quite weak? I feel that Martz is wasting talent in a great running back many teams wish they could have.

Mike Sando: I think Mike Martz has remained committed to Gore most of the time. However, we've seen a couple of key situations when going away from Gore proved costly. The 49ers ran only a few plays in the third quarter of the New England game. Gore got no carries. That would be one example. The way Martz handled the fourth quarter against the Eagles also opened him to criticism on this subject.

Gore is averaging 17.8 carries per game, 13th in the league. I've got Gore with 129 touches (carries plus receptions). These five players have more: Matt Forte (154), Clinton Portis (145), Adrian Peterson (140), Marion Barber (140) and Michael Turner (131). Those players' teams have all run more offensive plays this season, in some cases quite a few more.

The criticism you make seems fair situationally, if not cumulatively. By the way, if anyone has a link to stats that include most touches, please provide it. I imported receiving and rushing stats and then set up a formula to total receptions and rushes. Thanks in advance.


Greg from Seattle writes: Hi Mike. Everyone is talking about the tuck rule after the Cards-Boys game this weekend, but it wasn't the only questionable call in the game. In the Cowboys' second drive, Romo was sacked and fumbled. He clearly was not throwing the ball, less than two full seconds passed from the time he was hit to the time he fumbled, and the ball clearly came out before he hit the ground.

As far as I could tell, the play was ruled a sack without a fumble because the play was whistled dead. As Romo was taken down in one continuous motion by a single player, as opposed to being held up and gang-tackled, I am curious whether the league has addressed this call. It seemed to me that it was one of the worst calls I've seen. The Cards should have had the ball on the Cowboys' 19. Instead, after a punt and a penalty, they got it on their own 21. And an opportunity to take control of the game was lost.

Mike Sando: Totally agree. That call was one of the worst I've seen this season. The referee had no recourse, however, because he ruled the play dead. That's why it's important for officials to let a play continue. In that case, they can always use replay to fix the problem.


Myles from Seattle writes: Sando, I think your being to kind to the D... I understand the futility of our offense has left them on the field too long, and our lack of special teams play has put them in fairly poor position but there is no way this defense should have given up 20+ plays of 20+ yards in FIVE GAMES, that's just plum terrible. The secondary in particular is what concerns me the most and has led to a steadily increasing sense of foreboding about the impending Mora era. When at least half of your secondary resides amongst your team tackle leaders there is more wrong with this defense than just the offense.

On a different note, when is the last time a team had to start the emergency QB? Or better, when's the last time an emergency QB started more than one game for a team? Assuming Hasselbeck is out at least 2 more games and Seneca can't go this week do we continue to use Frye when Seneca is healthy? I would imagine more then anything, the offense needs conitnuity. I'm looking forward to having an explosive offensive player on the field (Wallace) but without his speed, and with only a week of preparation, should we assume he will be able to move the ball any bettter than Charlie?

Mike Sando: I think Seattle's record would be 3-2 with a normal Seahawks offense and no changes on defense. The San Francisco and Green Bay games were there for the taking. In that case, people would be talking about giving up too many big plays, but it wouldn't be a big deal because the team would be only one game out of first place.

The secondary became a strength last season. I still think Marcus Trufant is having a good year, although the hand situation might be affecting him at the line of scrimmage. The rest of it is probably confidence. Takes a long time to build and no time to lose. They're down right now.


Mike from San Jose writes: Hey Mike- I'm a 49ers fan, and its so tough to watch them give up games like this last weekend to the Eagles. What do you think the chances they get rid of Nolan and go with Singletary or another head coach by the start of next season?

Mike Sando: Those odds appear high. They increase with every defeat.


Jake from San Jose, Calif., writes: Hey Mike, I know that this is probably an NFC east question but, I read your blog and am a 49er fan. Hence, I love to throw the Cowboys under the bus. On the other hand, I think this whole Pacman mess is Roger Goodell's fault. He has been trying to keep the luster on the NFL shield and still chose to let Pacman back into the league when everyone knew he would embarrass the Cowboys and the NFL again. Don't you think Goodell should apologize or at least accept responsibility for allowing Pacman back into the NFL? After all, if he can keep Chad Johnson from writing his legal name on the back of his jersey, he could easily have kept Pacman from embarrassing the NFL ever again by banning him from the league permanently after his twelfth mess up.

Mike Sando: An apology might be a little extreme. I think actions speak louder than words. I would just suspend him indefinitely and move on.


Gregg from Rhode Island writes: it's a fact that Kurt Warner has had injury issues in the past. Are the Arizona Cardinals having Matt Leinart work more with the first team? I don't want it to come to that, but it could happen.

Mike Sando: There generally aren't enough reps to share them consistently during the regular season. He might get a couple here and there, but not consistently. The situation was different last season when Warner was playing situationally. In that case, Warner got some first-team reps as the backup. Leinart isn't playing this season, so he's not getting meaningful reps in practice.