Ground Game Still Important in NFL

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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.

[READ: From the Web to the Gridiron]

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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