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49ers could be looking to diversify ground game

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Dan Arkush

darkush@pfwmedia.com
Executive editor

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Posted Feb. 18, 2011 @ 12:43 p.m. ET
By Dan Arkush

Don’t be surprised if the 49ers utilize more of a multiback attack moving forward, even though new head coach Jim Harbaugh has acknowledged the likelihood that longtime featured back Frank Gore probably isn’t too crazy about the idea.

Harbaugh actually went with a heavy one-back approach at Stanford the past few seasons, showcasing Toby Gerhart in 2009 and Stepfan Taylor last season. It’s also worth noting that Gore appears to have made a complete recovery from the hip injury that cut short his 2010 campaign in Week 12. “But Gore will be entering his seventh season, and the Niners have used him so extensively that they have to start thinking about using other backs more,” one team insider said. “In addition, the offense became increasingly easy to stop, and a more creative approach would probably help a lot.”

A key factor in a more varied ground attack is second-year pro Anthony Dixon, who displayed some real flashes in his rookie campaign but also has some issues he must overcome, most notably his propensity to put on weight. “He’s great with the ball in his hands and has excellent feet for his size,” the insider said of Dixon. “But he needs to develop a bit more dedication. He put on weight during the season, and he had the same problem in college, which makes you wonder a little. But Dixon definitely has the talent to be Gore’s heir apparent.”

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