Cards look to hit ground running

Ron Jaworksi breaks down the two Monday night games, along with some of Sunday's most intriguing matchups.

Updated: September 7, 2007, 2:28 PM ET
By Ron Jaworski | ESPN Insider
When I look at the San Francisco 49ers' offense it is quite evident running back Frank Gore is the key to this team's success. The Niners have a run-first philosophy that is excellent for a young quarterback like Alex Smith.

Gore has the ability to be one of the top running backs in the league, and he is going to get the carries this season to show what he can do. Last season, he rushed for more than 1,695 yards on only 312 carries, while also scoring eight touchdowns on the ground. This season, he could get closer to 380 carries because the team will rely on him to move the ball.

(21) Frank Gore
Kyle Terada/US PresswireFrank Gore is one of the NFL's top running backs.
That's not to say Smith and the 49ers don't have other offensive weapons to exploit. They have tight end Vernon Davis controlling the hashmarks, while the addition of wide receiver Darrell Jackson is going to be great for Smith's maturation process. Jackson is a good route runner with the ability to take over a game. He's going to be the first true go-to guy Smith has had in his career and will be a good player for him to rely on.

Ron Jaworski

NFL analyst / writer
Ron Jaworski is one of the most popular and knowledgeable analysts covering the NFL today. Since joining ESPN in 1990, the former standout NFL quarterback has covered the league from virtually every angle -- sideline reporter, game-site reporter, host and both studio and game analyst. From 2007-11, Jaworski occupied one of the most coveted positions in sports as a Monday Night Football analyst.