SAN FRANCISCO -- Frank Gore is heading to the playoffs for only the second time in his eight seasons, and he's doing so as the 49ers' all-time leader in rushing touchdowns.

Gore ran for his 51st career touchdown Sunday to cap off a 12-play scoring drive in the 49ers' 27-13 win over the Arizona Cardinals.

Gore didn't hide his excitement over opening the playoffs at Candlestick Park on Jan. 12, stating: "Whoever comes here to the West Coast will see what we do."

Although the 49ers have become more pass-centric with Colin Kaepernick over the season's second half, Gore remains the offense's mainstay. His 20 carries for 68 yards gave him 1,214 yards this season, the second-highest total of his career and a mere 3 yards better than last season's output.

His 2-yard, fourth-quarter touchdown run marked his eighth score this season, matching last year's total. It also sent him past Roger Craig and the late Joe Perry on the franchise list for most rushing touchdowns. Gore thanked Craig for his long-standing help and for texting him congratulations on breaking the record.

"When you mention my name with the guys in the past like Jerry Rice, Steve Young, Joe Montana -- it's a blessing," Gore added.

  • Aldon Smith didn't express dismay over his inability to get a sack for the third straight game and finishing with 191/2 sacks, which is a franchise record but three shy of the single-season league mark.


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    "I'm 23 years old and I'm only going to get better," said Smith, last year's first-round draft pick who improved on his 14 sacks as a rookie.

    Smith finished second behind the Houston Texans' J.J. Watt (201/2 sacks) for the league's sack title, which no 49er has ever won.

    Smith often lined up against left tackle D'Anthony Batiste, who dived low into Smith's knees and ankles on at least three plays. Smith didn't bicker over that tactic, stating: "He was doing what he had to do to stop me."

  • Alex Smith made a fourth-quarter cameo for his first action since a Nov. 11 concussion. Smith completed his lone pass for a 6-yard gain to Bruce Miller. Dating back to halftime of an Oct. 18 win over Seattle, Smith completed 36 of his past 39 attempts for 391 yards, five touchdowns and one interception.

    Smith drew applause from the Candlestick crowd when he took the field in place of Colin Kaepernick with 5:57 remaining. Even though the 49ers went three-and-out in that series, fans chanted: "Al-ex!" Smith took a knee on the 49ers' final possession as the clock expired.

    "He deserved it," Gore said of the crowd's cheers. "He had his ups and downs here. Last year he had a great year, and at the beginning of this year he was doing great."

  • Playoff tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Monday through Ticketmaster.

  • Jim Harbaugh improved to 24-7-1 and has the third-most wins by an NFL coach in his first two seasons, trailing only ex-49ers coaches George Seifert (28) and Steve Mariucci (25).

  • Ricky Jean Francois and Ahmad Brooks produced back-to-back sacks on the defense's first series after halftime. It was Jean Francois' career-high second sack. Brooks' 61/2 sacks were a half-shy of last season's career-high total.

  • Safety Donte Whitner appeared in his 100th career game and recovered a fourth-quarter fumble.

  • Rather than field the game's opening punt near the 49ers' 20-yard line, returner Ted Ginn Jr. let it sail past him and roll to the 1. It was a career-best 70-yard punt for Dave Zastudil. Ginn's only return Sunday went for 28 yards to the Cardinals' 38-yard line in the third quarter.

  • Despite last Sunday's concussion, tight end Vernon Davis extended his streak to 91 consecutive starts.

  • The 49ers have won their past 11 December home games, the NFL's longest active streak. They improved to 12-0-1 in their past 13 home games against NFC West opponents.

  • A week after the 49ers allowed the Seattle Seahawks to convert 11 of 13 third-down opportunities, the Cardinals were 3 of 12.

  • The Cardinals' Larry Fitzgerald had only two receptions for 13 yards.

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