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Since getting blown out 41--10 at Chicago on Oct. 29, the 49ers (5--5) have had a November to remember, surprisingly playing themselves into contention in the NFC West. Their 20--14 home upset of the Seahawks left them one game behind Seattle and holding the tiebreaker with six games to play. Credit the Niners' three-game winning streak to 2005 third-round running back Frank Gore, who's rushed for 412 yards this month, including a franchise record 212 on Sunday. That pushed his total to 1,043 yards, just two behind Larry Johnson. At the ripe age of 23, Gore (above) has had reconstructive surgery on both knees, having torn both ACLs while at Miami, which dropped his draft stock. "Knock on wood, they don't hurt," he said on Sunday night. "It's amazing. I guess that's why there is a God. People gave up on me, but I never gave up." The 5'9", 212 pound Gore was a perimeter runner in college who didn't have a reputation for grinding it out between the tackles. Now he has not only regained his outside speed but also built his lower body so that he can earn extra yards in traffic.
Last week LaDainian Tomlinson, 27, reached the 100-touchdown mark faster than any NFL player before him, racking up four at Denver to reach 102 TDs in just his 89th game. The Chargers' back compares favorably with the most prolific touchdown scorers in history, Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith, as well as with Jim Brown, who held the TD record for two decades after retiring in 1966.
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]
1 Just goes to show you how fast things change in the NFL: On Nov. 13 NBC, exerting its flex-schedule right, snapped up what looked to be a prime matchup between Donovan McNabb's Eagles and the potentially unbeaten Colts for this week's Sunday night broadcast, passing up the Bears at the Patriots.
2 Weird: McNabb has now suffered a season-ending injury in a home game in three of the past five Novembers (ankle, sports hernia, ACL).
3 NFL Network president Steve Bornstein told SI he's "not confident at all" of reaching a deal with Time Warner and Cablevision to pick up the network, meaning the 20 million cable homes in the U.S. with those systems are likely to miss eight Thursday and Saturday games down the stretch.