Gore was just beginning his third season, and as the defending NFC rushing champ with 1,695 yards in 2006 was the focal point of the 49ers' offense.
Casey Hampton and the Steelers were ready for him. Hampton was starting the third year of a three-year streak of Pro Bowls as the AFC nose tackle and the 49ers attempted to run up the middle against him 12 times. They gained only 31 yards in those 12 carries as the Steelers won, 37-16.
Gore finished the game with 39 yards on 14 carries, but he did break off an 11-yard run up the middle to open the second half. Otherwise, Gore and the 49ers were shut down by Big Hamp and Co.
But Big Hamp doesn't remember the game. Here's his take as the teams prepare for the rematch:
Casey Hampton, nose tackle, Pittsburgh Steelers
Q: What can you tell me about the San Francisco offensive line?
A: Nothing special that's going to make you write nothing (laughs).
Q: What about the big guy, Mike Iupati? Have you watched him at all?
A: Man, I don't watch film.
Q: Now that's a story.
A: I don't really watch film. I'll watch the guy I'm going against. Other than that I'm not a big film guy. Hey, man, you just gotta whip the guy in front of you. At the end of the day that's what you've got to do.
Q: Not watching film hasn't affected you badly, has it?
A: Hey, man, Mitch told me ‘Whup a man ass make up for a whole lot.' And that's what it's all about.
Q: Why does Chris Hoke watch hours upon hours of film?
A: That's how Hokie wired. Hokie puts himself behind the eight ball. He feels like he's not as athletic and he has to do that. That's his thing to get hisself going. Hokie's like a coach on the field to me. He gives me the tips – ‘they're going to do this, they're going to do that.'
Q: You can't lose him, can you?
A: No, he gotta come to the game. He got to or I'll be lost.
Q: How did his surgery go yesterday?
A: He was here today. He came in and left.
Q: Do you remember the last time you played these guys?
A: You know you can't ask me about no game that was more than two or three weeks ago.
Q: They kept trying to run up the middle.
A: Did it work?
Q: No. You shut Frank Gore down.
A: They'll be more consistent with it this time. They'll try to run more. That's what they've been doing and you can't get away from what you're doing, especially because of that defense they're playing. They try to keep it close and win it at the end.
Q: Is your run defense back to where it should be?
A: No. We still aren't playing how we're capable of playing, especially against the run, giving up 90-some yards. That's not us. We're doing a better job, considering, but it's definitely not what we're accustomed to.
Q: Do you have a baseline goal for yardage allowed?
A: No. Just be consistent and win a lot more times than you lose in the running game. Try to keep them to 2 to 3-yard gains and stuff like that. Big runs, that's not us, but we've been doing that a little bit too much. Ten-yard runs, 20-yard runs, that's not us and we've been doing that a little bit too much.
Q: Will you watch the Ravens game Sunday?
A: I don't watch NFL football.
Q: Will you watch the scoreboard? Does it matter to you?
A: At the end of the day, if we don't win we're out. We can't worry about no one else.
Q: Don't you have any interest?
A: I'm interested in beating the 49ers. You know how that goes: You get into that, then they lose, and then you're all excited and you go out there and get your ass kicked and it don't even matter. You've just got to worry about winning out.
Q: Why aren't you getting upset by this stuff you can't control?
A: All I can do is play nose tackle, man. That's all I can do. I can't do nothing for nobody else. I can just get out there and play nose tackle.
Q: We may put that on your tombstone.
A: (Laughs) That's all I can do. Seriously, all I can do is my job. Everyone else has to do theirs.
Q: So you just go left or right?
A: Left, right and straight, man. Mitch says get the dude in front of you. If you mess up whupping a man's ass, he can deal with that (laughs).
Q: When's the last time you dropped into coverage?
A: It's been a while. That's Hokie's defense, so since Hokie's out I think they're going to scratch it because he's going to get mad if we run it and he ain't in there (laughs).
Q: What was it like the first time you dropped into coverage?
A: I like it, man. I'm a former linebacker back in the day. I've got the sweetest feet. Check that tape.
Q: We don't see you drop too often anymore.
A: I don't know why. I'm not getting no sacks so they might as well drop me back there and try to cover somebody (laughs).
Q: Back in the day? What day was that?
A: A long time ago. A long, long time ago.