Coming off his worst start as a pro in an injury shortened game vs. the Giants last weekend, Frank Gore is healing up surprisingly fast. The Raiders aren't so lucky, as their start back Darren McFadden will miss at least another game with his bum foot.
The pro-bowl back said he fully expects to be on the field Sunday for the 49ers match-up with the Arizona Cardinals. Even if that is the case though, I expect his workload to be a fraction of what it typically is, especially if the 49ers gain control of the game early like expected. Kendal Hunter has been outstanding as the change of pace back thus far and filled in admirably for Gore vs. the Giants. I still expect Gore to start as long as he's healthy, and get the majority of the carries, but if the 49ers are smart, they'll pace the 28 year-old and not give him more than 12-15 touches. The 49ers need to be taking advantage of their schedule right now and if it means resting a key player or two vs. the weaker teams in the league like Arizona, then I'm all for it. However, the 49ers need to be on their game and must take advantage of the light schedule if they are going to start resting their veterans a bit more. Staying on the injury front, it was very good to see Braylon Edwards back on the field after his brief absence. Michael Crabtree leaped into the forefront of the 49ers passing game in his absence, but he appeared to be on the same page as Alex Smith last Sunday like he never missed a beat. The 49ers didn't have him out there for every offensive snap though, as they're bringing him along a little slower than they have to. They need to use the same logic with Frank Gore.
Across the bay, the Raiders have their own backfield injury to deal with, as Run DMC has missed the last two games with a foot sprain, and will likely miss a 3rd consecutive game this weekend vs. Minnesota. Luckily for the Raiders though, they have Michael Bush backing him, and Bush has been a monster the last few weeks. I've always thought that Bush would be a great featured back because of his power and speed, and he's showed it November. So much so that the Raiders could find themselves shopping the former Rutgers star this offseason. I'm sure they'd like to hang onto Bush as McFadden's caddy, but I'm sure he'll want more carries after his showing over the last 2 seasons, and this could be the time for the Raiders to really cash in on him. I mentioned trading him before the deadline as part of the Carson Palmer deal, but his name was never brought up. Speaking of Palmer, in McFadden's absence, Carson has taken reigns of the offense and begun to get very comfortable. After his miserable start vs. KC before the bye, he's torched the Broncos and Chargers, throwing for 631 yards and 5 TD's in the last two weeks. He's also found his favorite target, taking a real liking to rookie Denarious Moore and putting the talented wideout right back on the pace he was at in the beginning of the year. With their passing game now catching up with their rushing attack, the Raiders have improved to 6-3 and look destined playoff football for the first time Since 2002.
Stanford Falls to #9: Unfortunately for the Stanford Cardinal, they couldn't keep up with the 49ers and Raiders winning ways last weekend. They fell to the speedy Oregon Ducks, who really laid it to Stanford like I haven't seen in a few years. They had control of the game from the get go and really gave Andrew Luck trouble all night long. I knew it was going to be a battle, but Oregon really made it look easy. We'll talk much more Stanford football as we gear up for Bowl season, but this loss eliminates any hope at a National Championship appearance for the Cardinal.