Frank Gore may not have to restructure his deal after all

INDIANAPOLIS — San Francisco 49ers general manager Trent Baalke hinted Friday at the NFL Combine that the team won’t ask running back Frank Gore to take a pay cut. And the Niners look like they’re in a good spot to finally reduce his workload with backups Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James and Marcus Lattimore.

Gore, who turns 31 in May, is due to make $6.45 million in the last year of his contract. Baalke said that contrary to public opinion, the 49ers are in good enough shape salary-cap wise that they don’t have to do anything with Gore as far as restructuring.

The 49ers are $11 million under the projected $130 million salary cap.

Baalke echoed Jim Harbaugh’s statement Thursday that Gore had an A-plus, plus season in 2013. He played 75 percent of the offensive snaps and ran for 1,128 yards and nine touchdowns.

“A-plus, plus. I mean, how can you argue with the statistics?” Baalke said. “And he brings so much more to the team, I think we all know that. Frank’s an extremely passionate guy, loves the game of football, he loves the organization. He’s everything we’re looking for from a DNA standpoint, and he’s an awfully good football player and he’s a great teammate.”

Hunter, Lattimore and James could, and should, give Gore some breathers in 2014. Baalke said the 49ers aren’t interested in trading James and that Lattimore still has four years remaining on his contract. Lattimore spent his entire rookie year rehabbing a serious knee injury and was never on the 53-man roster, preserving that year on his contract.

“It’s a crowded backfield,” Baalke said. “And like we addressed earlier, Frank had an awfully good year. When you look at that, you realize you’ve got Frank, you’ve got Kendall (Hunter), you’ve got LaMichael. It’s a crowded backfield. At certain times, the coaching staff is looking to get (James) involved, and for whatever reason in the game itself they weren’t able to.”

“It’s a delicate balance trying to keep all those guys happy when you only have one football. (James is) going to continue to grow, he’s going to continue to work hard, and he’ll get his shot at some point.”

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