When Frank Gore took a direct snap on 3rd and 11 in the third quarter against Detroit, his three-yard gain might have seemed like a wasted play. However, that one play has given Patriots coach Bill Belichick and his team plenty to think about this week. While Gore was racking up 130 yards against Detroit that day, Miami's Ronnie Brown was running roughshod over the New England defense, many of his gains coming on direct snaps. Brown even threw a touchdown pass against New England.
"Oh, I think we definitely have to be ready for it down the road," Belichick said. "We've seen it before. We saw it, worked against it with Leon Washington with the Jets. Tomlinson in San Diego did that at the end of the year. Gore has done it. ... Anytime you get hurt with something like that, you've got to anticipate that it is a possibility that somebody else could do it again and you better make sure that you get it straightened out."
Gore, meanwhile, admits he never took a direct snap at Miami and hasn't played quarterback since Pop Warner. But that doesn't mean he can't throw the ball. "Mike's got a pretty good arm," Gore said of former Penn State QB and current 49ers RB Michael Robinson. "But I'm pretty close to him. I told Mike, I feel I could have played quarterback at Penn State, too."
The other day I noted that Andy Lee's punting average was well below what it was in 2007. What I failed to note was that a punter's average often is dictated by how effective his offense is. That is, the worse the offense, the more opportunities a punter has to boom his punts and increase his average. The 49ers, of course, have moved the ball effectively this season and many of the punts Lee has had have been pooch punts. "Your numbers aren't going to be as high because you're not getting a chance to really let the ball go," Lee said. Case in point: The punter with the best average this year, Donnie Jones, plays for the 0-4 St. Louis Rams.
New England receiver Wes Welker, who was not on the injury report yesterday, was limited in practice today with a groin injury.