INDIANAPOLIS --- The possibilities for Frank Gore in the Colts offense are exciting, to say the least, and studying some of his game tape with the 49ers last season along with game tape of the Colts 2014 rushing offense further illustrates the opportunities.
First, here's what Frank Gore had to say about rushing the ball with 8+ defensive players in the box in San Francisco. Gore has led all RBs each of the past three seasons in rushing attempts with 8+ men in the box.
"My whole career I had 8, 9-man fronts," said Gore during OTAs, when asked if that was consistent during his decade in San Francisco. "Now with the weapons and Andrew Luck, one of the top quarterbacks in the league, I think it should be a light box. It should be fun. I never saw a 6-man front. Hopefully, this year it happens. Hopefully, I can go out there and take advantage of it."
Here are a couple examples of Gore against an 8-man box in the last game he played in against the Cardinals week 17, as well as Luck's praise of his pass protection.
Many Colts fans have seen this statistic by now this offseason:
2014 Rushing Attempts vs. 8+ Men in the Box
Frank Gore - 76
DeMarco Murray - 58
Justin Forsett - 52
It was Gore in a landslide against less than ideal fronts. Despite facing those match-ups, Gore still rushed for 4.3 yards per carry, thanks to ranking in the top-10 in yards after contact. 506 of his 1,106 rushing yards last season came after contact. That came out to an extra 2.0 yards per attempt after contact.
"I think we're real anxious to see him with pads on. Once he makes that cut, it's downhill," said Colts left tackle Anthony Castonzo earlier this month. "He plays behind his pads, even though we had no pads on. He's running behind his shoulders. When he finds the hole, he hits it, and he finds some holes in there that you didn't even know existed. He just kind of squirts out of there. I'm really excited to play with him."
Former Colts Quarterback Jim Sorgi and Colts.com Beat Writer Kevin Bowen illustrated just that with Gore against a 9-man box in the red zone. They also break down a play the Colts had against a 6-man box that only went for a short gain.
There were countless instances of Colts RBs only facing 6-man boxes in 2014 when reviewing game tape across multiple weeks, which should again be the case in 2015 with the additions of Andre Johnson and potentially rookies Phillip Dorsett and Duron Carter on the outside to go along with T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief, and tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen.
What evidence is there that Gore will have easier rushing situations with less than 8 in the box in 2015? Consider this.
In 2012, Gore had his 2nd best rushing season as a pro, racking up 1,214 yards on the ground. He did it with 8+ defenders in the box 42.3% of the time. Again, that led all players and far exceeded the league average of 23.3%. Why did he face that many in the box so often? The 49ers also led the league that year with 53.5% of their rushing snaps coming with 1 or fewer receivers split out wide.
How often do we expect Colts Offensive Coordinator Pep Hamilton to only split out one wide receiver? Well, considering he already joked that he ripped up his fullback and 2TE packages after Dorsett was drafted, I'm going to go out on a limb and say not that often.
Gore could very well have a running back's paradise when he looks across the line of scrimmage pre-snap in 2015.