Through three weeks of the NFL season, Frank Gore and the San Francisco 49ers had not exactly established themselves as a team with a punishing run game. Despite a 2-1 record, the San Francisco running backs had just 166 total yards rushing the ball. Their wins had come from great special teams and even better defense. The 49ers offensive line was taking heat, as well as Gore and his new contract after missing the end of last season with a broken hip. If they were going to continue winning games without a star quarterback, San Francisco was going to have to find ways to get Gore in space.

The Washington Redskins darted off to a 3-1 start, just like the 49ers. They entered their bye week leading the NFC East and things were looking up for head coach Mike Shanahan and his team. The Redskins won the time of possession battle in all three of their early victories. They also held the opponent to less than 100 total rushing yards in each of these games. In order for Washington to continue these winning ways, they simply had to tuck away their recipe for success during the week off and bring it back out against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 5.

The Redskins didn't exactly come out of the bye week with a bang. It seems someone might've tampered with that recipe that Shanahan should have tucked under his pillow before bed each night. It's unlikely he's doing much sleeping now, as Washington has dropped all three games following its bye week. You could blame Coach Shanahan for replacing quarterback Rex Grossman with John Beck. Both guys have turned the ball over quite frequently. But Grossman does hold a 3-2 record in games he has started this season. With the Redskins coming into their Week 9 matchup with the 49ers at 3-4 overall, that leaves Beck with a record of 0-2.

Blame Mike Shanahan. Blame the quarterbacks. Go ahead and blame injuries if that's your sort of thing. Regardless of where you place the blame, Washington has completely forgotten how to win football games. They have failed to hold on to the ball and have lost the time of possession battle in each of the last three games. Their defense has suffered, allowing over 130 yards rushing each game.

Maybe San Francisco stumbled upon a nice suprise while they camped out east in between road matchups against the Bengals and the Eagles. Perhaps that sacred formula the Redskins were using had grew legs and ran off to Youngstown, where the 49ers would be practicing for the week. Whatever happened, the running game came alive. Gore, as well as rooke backup Kendall Hunter, suddenly had found plenty of open space to run in. 

Gore has surpassed 125 yards rushing in each of his last four games. San Francisco is 3-0 when they play in the Eastern Time Zone. When they have traveled to hostile environments, they have leaned on the run game to minimize mistakes and move the ball down the field. This is the type of football the 49ers have been striving to play, and now they are playing it well. San Francisco has imposed its will on stronger opponents than Washington, and they have no reason to stop now.

Although the NFL is as unpredictable as they come, it's a safe bet to say Gore and his crew will be running wild this Sunday at Fedex Field. Washington has allowed a whopping 168.3 YPG rushing in the past three games. As amazing as it is, San Francisco has ran for 188.5 YPG in their past four games. Yikes. Gore and the 49ers offensive lineman must be salivating right now. The San Francisco running back carried the ball 31 times last week against the Cleveland Browns. If he gets anywhere close to that in this game, the result could be downright nasty.