Running to daylight still important in NFL

Associated Press Published: October 12, 2012
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"I understand what you hear and the thrust of what's going on in all levels; from kids leagues to all the way up, they're more in tune into the throwing game and that's fine," Carroll said. "It's been a really good game for a lot of years playing defense and running the ball and taking care of the ball."

Adds Bills coach Chan Gailey, who is fortunate to have a dynamic 1-2 punch in running backs Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller, if they can stay healthy, which has been an issue this season:

"It's a tough game for tough people. And I think that if you run the football you can impose your will on other teams. But it's different. The game's different than it was 10-15, 20 years ago. So you change, you change with the times and you adjust, but you do what you have to do."

What the 49ers do is, basically, run it down opponents' throats with the most diverse rushing plan of any NFL team. Frank Gore is the main man, and he's shown a nice burst to go with his usual power. Gore is averaging a hefty 5.4 yards a carry and has four touchdowns.

His backup, Kendall Hunter, has supplied the perfect change of pace with his shiftiness and speed to the outside. He, too, is gaining 5.4 yards a carry.

Plus, quarterbacks Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick can run, with Kaepernick showing what the wildcat can do when used properly.

That variety presents a daunting challenge to the opposition, which happens to be the team that beat the 49ers for the NFC championship in January, then won the Super Bowl: the Giants.

"I think they've added, trick is not the right word, some scheming problems to complement what they did last year," New York defensive end Justin Tuck said. "They've got some things in there that look exactly one way and it's the complete opposite from what their play is supposed to look like. So I think their coaching staff has done a great a job of putting them in a scheme that can confuse defenses at times, but the biggest thing is just playing more physical."

Nowhere can an offense be more physical than in the run game.

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AP Sports Writers Tim Booth in Seattle, John Wawrow in Buffalo and Howard Ulman in Boston contributed to this story.

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Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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