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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2010 NFL Draft Recap: NFC West

Here are quick-hit 2010 NFL Draft observations for the NFC West.

Arizona Cardinals
Nose tackle Dan Williams is a great fit for the Cards, who were fortunate he slipped to them at No. 26. The team has been trying to fill the nose tackle position for years and they may have found the player to do it in Williams, who is explosive off the line. There’s a great chance he’ll beat out Gabe Watson for the right to start in Week 1. I also really liked Arizona’s second round pick, linebacker Daryl Washington. He’ll play alongside Geno Hayes in the Cards’ 3-4 alignment and might rack up 100 tackles with his sideline-to-sideline style of play. Citadel receiver Andre Roberts is a sleeper and will help out immediately as a punt returner. Third-rounder O’Brien Schofield had a first round grade on him before tearing his ACL in the Senior Bowl. He’s a prototypical 3-4 edge-rusher and has high upside, although he may need more time to fully recover from the injury. I also love the selection of John Skelton in the fifth. He’s athletic, has a cannon for an arm and he was a gamer at Fordham. He could be a great developmental project down the road, especially if Matt Leinart and Derek Anderson don’t pan out. All in all, this was one of my favorite drafts of any team this year.

San Francisco 49ers
I loved what the Niners did with their first three picks, which is where teams usually find starters and players that can make an impact right away. Anthony Davis will compete with Adam Snyder for the starting right tackle job, while Mike Iupati will battle David Bass at the starting left guard position. To nab two potential starters with their first two picks was excellent for San Fran. I also really liked the Taylor Mays selection in the second round because it showed great value, although he has a lot to prove after a sub par senior season at USC. The good thing for the Niners is that he has a chip on his shoulder, is a great athlete and will be working close with Mike Singletary, who is an excellent motivator. I didn’t like the pick of Navorro Bowman in the third round, only because he’s too small to play inside linebacker in a 3-4 and might wind up being a career special teamer if he stays in San Fran. It was a little early to be selecting special teamers in the third round. I did really like what San Fran did in the later rounds, however, nabbing bruising runner Anthony Dixon and burner Kyle Williams in the sixth.

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2010 NFL Draft Player Preview: Anthony Dixon, RB, Mississippi State

Perhaps one of the best-kept secrets in this year’s draft is Mississippi State running back Anthony Dixon, who could be a mid-round steal come April.

Listed at 6’1 and 245 pounds, Dixon led the SEC in rushing for 2009 and has impressed scouts thus far with his lower and upper-body strength. The fact that he was a four-year starter for the Bulldogs and missed just one game in his career speaks volumes about his durability as a ballcarrier. He also caught 56 passes while at Miss State, which proves that he isn’t limited to being a short yardage back.

Strengths: Dixon is a strong, powerful runner that can handle a heavy workload and has proven that he can run between the tackles. He also has a ton of experience after starting all four years at Mississippi State and despite being a bigger back, he has the lateral mobility to bounce runs outside. But perhaps his best strength is that he shows patience and vision as a runner, which lends to him picking up the pro game quickly.

Weaknesses: He doesn’t have top-end speed and he doesn’t change directions very well either. He does come with some off-field baggage as well, after being suspended for the 2009 season opener following a DUI arrest over the summer. His work ethic has been questioned in the past as well, as he has struggled with his weight. That said, it’s fair to note that he showed up at the Senior Bowl in tip-top shape, which is a good omen for his pre-draft workouts.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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