Frank Gore suffers fractured hip, is done for the season

San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore (C) finds the hole and runs for a first down in the first quarter of the 49ers game against the Arizona Cardinals San Francisco 49ers at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ November 29,2010. UPI/Art Foxall Photo via Newscom

The 49ers better hope that Brian Westbrook has found the fountain of youth because their chances of making the playoffs just took a major hit.

NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora reports that Frank Gore will miss the remainder of the season with a fractured right hip. He suffered the injury in the first half of the Niners’ 27-6 victory over the Cardinals on Monday night, although what’s interesting is that he returned to the game after initially heading to the locker room for treatment. He did not receive X-rays during that time, however, and he eventually carried the ball once more before leaving the game for good.

While the team has yet to make an official announcement on his timetable to return, it’s probably safe to assume that his season is over. Westbrook and rookie Anthony Dixon will now split carries in the Niners’ backfield.

It came against the Cardinals’ shoddy front seven, but Westbrook looked great on Monday night. He rushed for a season-high 136 yards on 23 carries with one touchdown and showed some of the cutting ability that made him popular in Philadelphia. Considering how well he ran, it makes you wonder why Mike Singletary and his coaching staff didn’t get him more involved until now. (He had just five carries coming into the game.)

With the win, the 49ers find themselves back in contention in the worst division in football. And seeing as how they play the Rams and Seahawks (two teams with one more win than San Fran) in December, it’s not unrealistic to think that Troy Smith and Co. can win the NFC West. But losing Gore was a major blow and it puts even more emphasis on Smith getting up to speed with the offense so that the Niners can open things up in the passing game.

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Fantasy Quick Hitters: Caddy, MBIII, Marshall and more

Bucs’ OC Greg Olson wants Caddy to be the featured back. Williams has been productive, but he’s injury-prone, and if the Bucs start giving him 25 touches a game, he’s probably going to break down. This is bad news for Derrick Ward in the short term, but in the long term, it might be a good thing. Ward could be the primary ballcarrier to close the season.

Brandon Marshall seems to be happy again. It’s amazing what a 4-0 start and a sick, game-winning TD catch will do for a guy. Marshall’s talent is undeniable, and it seems like he and HC Josh McDaniels have put the ill will behind them and have found a way to work together. Marshall’s upside is still limited somewhat by Kyle Orton (just ask Eddie Royal owners), but he has been productive of late and has worked his way back to being an every-week start in most formats.

Rashard Mendenhall should start this week. With Willie Parker likely out, look for another big game from Mendenhall as he faces the Lions’ 20th-ranked rush defense.

MBIII is back at practice. The Cowboys face the Chiefs this week, so it’s a nice matchup for the entire offense. Barber should be in most starting lineups, but Tashard Choice is likely to see a lot of work to keep Barber fresh. Choice has been productive, so there’s no reason not to use him.

Frank Gore on track to return in Week 7. The 49ers have a bye next week, so it looks like Sunday may be the last week that Glen Coffee is startable. He has a nice matchup with the 25th-ranked Falcons’ rush defense and should see plenty of work. Regardless, Gore owners should keep Coffee stashed as a handcuff.

Colts’ lose Freeney for two weeks – Niners lose Gore for three

According to Adam Schefter’s Twitter page, Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney is expected to miss 2-3 weeks due to a right quad injury and 49ers.com reports that Frank Gore will miss three weeks with a high right ankle and a right hind foot sprain.

I don’t know if “devastating” is the right word to describe these injuries, but they’re both significant.

The Colts defense has played excellent so far this year, partly because they’ve been able to generate pressure using only their front four. Freeney has been a one-man wrecking crew at times, especially last Sunday night in Arizona. With him out, Indy might not be able to create pressure solely from their front four and it could change the way they game plan.

If rookie Glen Coffee can pick up where he left off in preseason, then the Niners will stay afloat without Gore for a couple weeks. Coffee showed a surprising burst and quickness in preseason and will now have to become a full-time back in just his first year.

What will be interesting to watch unfold is if Coffee can’t be productive. That would put pressure on Shaun Hill to make more plays in the passing game and outside of his play at Minnesota on Sunday and the game-winning drive in Arizona in Week 1 he hasn’t done that.

If San Fran wants to stay atop the NFC West, it’s time for Hill to step up and give the Niners a balanced offensive attack while Gore is out.

49ers will learn from loss to Vikings

The 49ers’ loss in Minnesota on Sunday is the kind of defeat that can deflate a team. But with Mike Singletary in charge, I don’t foresee that happening.

San Francisco flat out blew a win yesterday. Had the Niners not been in a base defense when Greg Lewis got past coverage and Brett Favre found him in the back of the end zone with only seconds remaining, the 49ers would still be undefeated. (And with another win against the Rams coming in Week 4.)

While addressing the media following the loss, Singletary said: “There’s nothing to look at the floor for. We’re gonna get better. We will see them again in the playoffs.”

Singletary isn’t going to allow a good Niners team to dwell on this loss, especially when San Fran clearly has enough talent on its roster to make the playoffs. While losing running back Frank Gore to an injured ankle will hurt, the Niners did a nice job building depth this offseason when they drafted Glen Coffee.

The Niners had several positives come out of their game yesterday, including quarterback Shaun Hill proving that he can make plays in the passing game. The defense is already good enough to hang with most opponents on Sundays and in Singletary, San Fran has a head coach that has instilled hard work and focus into his team.

Ironically, the Niners are probably the class of a weak NFC West considering the Seahawks and Cardinals look vulnerable and the Rams are, well, the Rams. The division is there for the taking and something tells me that San Fran’s loss in Minnesota will only motivate them.

Vikings win thriller to stay undefeated; Gore hurt

It’s amazing how unsung heroes emerge every week in the NFL.

For the Vikings, the unsung hero in their 27-24 win over the 49ers was receiver Greg Lewis (yes, the same Greg Lewis that never developed in Philadelphia), who made an unbelievable catch on a 32-yard pass from Brett Favre with two seconds remaining to propel Minnesota to victory.

Things looked bleak for the Vikes, who had relinquished several leads throughout the game and who appeared destined for a loss trailing 24-20 with only 1:29 left in the fourth. But Favre led Minnesota to the 49ers’ 32-yard line and with only 12 seconds remaining, zipped a pass to Lewis to earn an improbable win.

For the Niners, things went from bad to worse when it was discovered that running back Frank Gore would probably miss at least the next two weeks with a high ankle sprain. He rushed just one time for four yards against Minnesota before leaving the game.

The good news for San Fran is that although the Vikings took away the Niners’ running game, Shaun Hill was able to make plays threw the air. Vernon Davis had a big day, hauling in seven passes for 96 yards and two touchdowns as San Fran beat Minnesota’s Cover 2 defense by attacking the middle of the field.

The bad news for San Fran is that it blew the final play. Why were they in a normal defense when the game was on the line and Minnesota had to go 40 yards to score a touchdown to win? The 49ers should have had more defenders back to protect the only play that could hurt them and shouldn’t have allowed Lewis to sneak behind their coverage.

But Mike Singletary and the Niners will learn from the loss and move on. This is still a solid team and should be competitive all season.

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