Niner of the Week

Frank Gore is SFI's Niner of the Week for his performance in the 49ers' 37-31 overtime victory against the Arizona Cardinals.

Sunday standout: Gore cracked the 100-yard rushing barrier for the first time this season while recording season-high totals of 21 carries for 116 yards and two touchdowns to help the 49ers snap their eight-game losing streak. He also reeled in a career-high 11 receptions for 98 yards to personally account for 214 of San Francisco's 374 total yards in the 49ers' breakout offensive performance of 2007, garnering NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors for his effort. After aggravating an ankle injury during San Francisco's second offensive series, which temporarily sent him to the sidelines, Gore returned to boost San Francisco's lead to 17-7 with a 11-yard scoring run, his first touchdown in nine games. After keeping the offense moving on the ground and through the air the rest of the game, Gore then broke off a 35-yard touchdown run to put San Francisco ahead 31-28 – the fifth lead change of the game – with 1:15 remaining to play. On his 31 touches, Gore produced 10 of San Francisco's season-high 21 first downs and had six runs of 10 yards or more and four receptions of 11 yards or more. Gore's 35-yard touchdown dash was his second-longest run of the season.

Season to date: Gore, the reigning NFC rushing champion, has moved up to eighth among the NFC's leading rushers this week with 655 yards on 159 carries, a 4.1 average. He ranks 18th among the NFL leaders after finishing third in the league last year. He has moved up to third on the team in receptions with 33 for 261 yards, which ranks him 36th among the NFC leaders and third among running backs behind New Orleans' Reggie Bush and Philadelphia's Brian Westbrook. Gore is now tied for seven in the NFC and 15th in the NFL with 961 total yards from scrimmage. Prior to Sunday's game – when he produced a season high in each category – Gore's previous highs this year were 88 yards rushing in Week 7 against New York, 20 carries in Week 2 against St. Louis, five receptions in Week 11 against St. Louis and 42 receiving yards in Week 4 against Seattle.

Need to note: Gore becomes the first 49er this season to be recognized by the league as a player of the week and earned the honor for the third time in his career. He also was honored following his 134-yard rushing performance in the 49ers' 34-20 win over Oakland on Oct. 8 of last season, then again for his franchise-record 212-yard rushing performance against Seattle six weeks later. Sunday's game was the 11th 100-yard rushing game of Gore's three-year career after he recorded a team-record nine 100-yard games last season. The 49ers are 8-3 in those games and 9-1 in Gore's career when he records 20 or more carries. Gore has now rushed for two touchdowns in a game five times in his career. He set franchise records with 312 carries and 1,695 rushing yards last season while also leading the 49ers with 61 receptions, becoming the first player to lead the team in rushing and receiving in the same season since Roger Craig in 1988. Gore also was NOTW once earlier this season for his performance in Week 2 at St. Louis.

Gore says: "It feels good, especially because we got a win. I finally get my 100-yard game, especially against a tough defense, the Arizona Cardinals. They were playing great ball and we went in their house and beat them. And hopefully now, we can take a step and try to change our season around from here. We had opportunities to make big plays and we made them. The last couple of weeks we had opportunities and we didn't make the big plays. Now we're hopping."

Quarterback Trent Dilfer says: "Frank is the catalyst of this football team. We feed off his energy. And he's an emotional guy, which is great. I wouldn't change it for the world. But he needs to keep his energy up. Even when things don't go well, to keep the body language good, keep the energy up and we'll feed off that. I feed off it, everybody feeds off it. So really, Frank's the reason here. We got him the ball as much as we could. The guys up front obviously did a great job, but Frank not only brought it with his legs and his hands, he brought it with his heart."

Coach Mike Nolan says: "Frank's one of those guys, he goes with the heart. He does have some mood in him. When it's not going well he tries to hang in there, but it's tough. So this should give him a boost. He fought through some pain the other day. He said the other day every time he landed on (his sore ankle) it would burn and then it would go away. That's why he came out a couple of times and came to the sideline and on one of them, I even mentioned after the game, he kind of put his hands on me because I was standing right over him. I thought he was done, but he just said every time he would land on it, there would be a burning sensation. But it would subside and he'd go back in."

Looking forward: As he has been since taking over as the team's featured back last season, Gore will remain the central figure of the San Francisco offense and the player who makes the attack go with his rushing and pass-catching out of the backfield. Gore is a lock to finish as the 49ers' leading rusher for the third consecutive season and he is six receptions behind Arnaz Battle and three behind Vernon Davis in his quest to lead the team in receptions for the second consecutive year. With a late flourish, he could climb high among the NFC leaders and perhaps get in the running for a second consecutive trip to the Pro Bowl. Gore won't match his record totals of last year, but he is back on track toward a 1,000-yard season and needs to average 69 yards per game over the final five weeks of the season to reach that mark.

ALSO CONSIDERED: LB Patrick Willis (game- and career-high 18 tackles, 0.5 sacks, one QB hit, one pass defensed in a spectacular performance); QB Trent Dilfer (256 yards passing, two touchdowns, 99.9 passer rating – all season highs this year for a San Francisco QB); CB Nate Clements (10 tackles, one pass defensed, one forced fumble that led to a San Francisco touchdown).

2007 NOTW LIST: Week 1: WR Arnaz Battle. Week 2: RB Frank Gore. Week 3: DE Marques Douglas. Week 4: P Andy Lee. Week 5: LB Patrick Willis. Week 6: No selection (49ers bye week). Week 7: LB Patrick Willis. Week 8: TE Vernon Davis. Week 9: LB Patrick Willis. Week 10: LB Jeff Ulbrich. Week 11: DE Marques Douglas. Week 12: RB Frank Gore.

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