Frank Gore

Colts taking the reins off Frank Gore

Frank Gore hadn’t had 28 carries in an NFL game since 2011, back when he was a mere 28 years old and in his seventh pro season.

He did it again last week against the Denver Broncos, the Indianapolis Colts running back finishing with 83 hard-earned yards against one of the NFL’s stoutest and hardest-hitting defenses.

So, naturally, several questions had to be asked: How did it feel? How deep was the bruising? How painful was the soreness? How long was the recovery? Gore politely interrupts.

“I don’t get hit,” he said, practically amused by the line of questioning. “They can’t really hit me (with) a clean shot. I guess I’ve just been blessed.”

This is one of the things Gore sees as a secret to his success, his uncanny ability to avoid the kind of frequent, bone-crushing hits that ensure running backs have maybe the shortest life spans of NFL players. Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Quinn, whose team hosts the Colts on Sunday (1 p.m., CBS), said it’s a product of Gore’s unbelievable vision.

This is also, perhaps, the reason the Colts can entertain the idea of unleashing Gore a bit. He’s been restricted to this point by what coach Chuck Pagano has described as a pitch count, an undisclosed number of carries the Colts would like to limit Gore to this season.

But circumstances have changed. The Colts are 4-5. They’re barely holding onto first place in their terrible division. And, by the way, their franchise quarterback, Andrew Luck, is out for an undetermined length of time with a lacerated kidney.

This does not feel like the time to place limitations on one of the team’s most productive offensive players. Prudence is an admirable quality – and it’s what led the Colts to institute modest workload limits on their 32-year-old runner in the first place.

Then again, what’s that saying about desperate times and desperate measures?

“If he’s rolling like that,” Pagano said Wednesday, “and we’re staying balanced and he feels good, we’re going to do what we have to do to win the ball game.”

That’s a clear indication the Colts are willing to break with their adherence to the limits initially placed on Gore. It’s also a direct contradiction of Pagano’s earlier statements on this topic.

Here’s what he said on the subject days before the season opener in September: “We’ve got to be smart with the amount of carries. He’s going to want to play every snap… I think we all know that we can’t do that. We need him. It’s a marathon. It’s not a sprint. So, we’ve got him on a pitch count and we’re going to stick to it.”

The addition of backup running back Ahmad Bradshaw to the roster last month reduces some of the load on Gore, so the Colts don’t necessarily have to get too far out of proportion with Gore’s carries. Bradshaw is operating as the third-down back right now, giving the Colts good pass protection but also reliable hands as a receiver, if needed.

But the Colts’ running game starts and ends with Gore. The lack of a consistent running game the past couple of seasons prompted General Manager Ryan Grigson to make Gore a prime free agent target, and the move is paying off. Gore, with 599 yards through nine games, is on pace to become the team’s first 1,000-yard rusher since Joseph Addai in 2007. It would be Gore’s fifth consecutive season achieving the 1,000-yard threshold.

But Gore doesn’t come off as the sort of guy who knows his numbers. He’s more interested in winning. If you don’t believe that, you should have a conversation with him in the locker room after a loss, when his emotions are at their rawest.

What Gore is aware of, however, is that the Colts had their most balanced offensive performance of the season before their bye last weekend. Against the Broncos, the Colts had 34 called runs versus 43 pass dropbacks. Their 40 total rushing attempts were a season high.

“I think playing the game of football should be like that,” Gore said. “It helps the defense control the clock, puts us in better situations, puts the passing game in a better situation, so I think that probably was (our) best offensive game.”

Across the locker room, Bradshaw joined in the chorus.

“I believe in setting the tone every game,” he said. “When I was raised up, we played smash-mouth, power football. Know what I mean? That’s what I try to do when I touch the ball. I feel like the running backs can take a lot of pressure off the quarterback.”

Speaking of which, 40-year-old Matt Hasselbeck could use the help. He hasn’t made more than two consecutive starts since 2012. Now, he faces the potential of starting an undetermined number of games because Luck’s absence could last as long as six weeks.

“There’s a bigger role for everybody considering the circumstances,” Pagano said.

Especially Gore. And he’s ready. Remember, they can’t hit him. He feels just fine.

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Frank Gore leads former 49ers on offense toiling elsewhere

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The San Francisco 49ers' roster was decimated this offseason by retirements and free agency, let alone the 49ers themselves parting ways with a player or two.

So with San Francisco on their bye week, what better time to check in on some of those high-profile players?

It is interesting to note that while only two of those who left are with teams boasting winning records, their combined winning percentage of .440 is still better than the 49ers' .333 that comes with a 3-6 mark.

Courtesy of my NFL Nation brethren, here are some thoughts on the more offensively-minded players now toiling elsewhere (the defensive players will be posted later this afternoon):

RB Frank Gore (Indianapolis Colts): Gore has exceeded expectations during his first season in Indianapolis. He leads the team in rushing with 599 yards and four touchdowns. Gore's ability to still burst through holes has him on pace for his ninth season of at least 1,000 yards rushing. "I don't feel like I'm 32 [years old]," Gore said. "My body has me feeling like I'm in my 20's still." -- Mike Wells

LG Mike Iupati (Arizona Cardinals): He's been a major reason why the Cardinals' running game has improved from 3.29 yards per carry last season to 4.5 this year. When Iupati is on the field, Arizona averages 4.86 yards per carry. The Cardinals have also run for 261 yards behind him, the most for any offensive line position this season.-- Josh Weinfuss

WR Michael Crabtree (Oakland Raiders): Crabtree has been fantastic. He is on pace for 94 catches, 1,182 yards and 10 touchdowns. All would be career highs. He will be attractive on the free-agent market. The Raiders want him back. -- Bill Williamson

WR Stevie Johnson (San Diego Chargers): In his first season with the Chargers, Johnson's been effective and had an impact when healthy. Johnson's third on the team in targets (45) and catches (31), and fourth in receiving yards (351). He also has two receiving touchdowns on the year. Johnson missed two games this season with a hamstring injury. -- Eric Williams

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TD Streak Extended - 7 TDs Scored

SEVEN #‎proCane TDs were scored in Week 10 of the NFL!

#Browns RB Duke Johnson, #‎Dolphins RB Lamar Miller (2), #Panthers TE Greg Olsen, #Raiders TE Clive Walford, #Jags WR Allen Hurns, #Colts RB Frank Gore.

Duke Johnson’s TD extended the streak to 15 straight weeks a #proCane has scored a TD in the #‎NFL. Greg Olsen’s TD was also the 500th reception of his career!

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Frank Gore: Tallies 102 total yards against Denver

Gore rushed for 83 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries in Sunday's win over Denver. He added a 19-yard reception on the day.

The stats don't necessarily do Gore's performance justice as he paced Indy's offense in the first half as the Colts piled up a 17-0 lead. His 102 all-purpose yards and 29 touches were both season highs and with a new offensive coordinator, Rob Chudzinski, calling the shots it wil be interesting to see whether the Colts lean more heavily on the run as a means of taking pressure, and hits, off of Andrew Luck.

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Frank Gore runs for 70 yards in Week 8 loss

Frank Gore rushed 22 times for 70 yards and caught all three of his targets for 22 yards in the Colts' Week 8 loss to the Panthers on Monday night.

The 22 carries tied a season-high while the 25 touches set a new benchmark for Gore. The veteran did much of his damage in the first half before Andrew Luck took over in the fourth quarter with Ahmad Bradshaw handling pass-game work in the Colts' backfield. At the halfway point of the season, Gore is on pace to rush 240 times for 1,032 yards (4.3 YPC) and six touchdowns. The touchdown total is a bit of a disappointment, but if the offense can find its way over the final eight games, that number could potentially come close to doubling. Gore remains a strong RB2 but gets a bump down next week against the Broncos' elite defense.

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Colts play better when Gore gets the ball

Besides a couple of costly goal line fumbles early this season, Frank Gore has run the football very effectively in his first season with the Indianapolis Colts. The 32-year-old running back is averaging 4.6 yards a carry. That's better than his career average (4.5) over 11 seasons. 

But Gore is also on pace for the fewest carries since his rookie season. Nine times in his career Gore has run for over 200 times in a season. Eight times he has run for over 1,000 yards. Gore has run 98 times for 446 yards and three touchdowns this season. He carried the ball just nine times in Sunday's loss to the Saints.

"I understand the big picture of everything," said Gore after practice Wednesday. "I've been in this league 11 years now. I know some games dictate how the game is going. That's how I know how the (running back) will be able to play. Last week the game was out of hand early, so we had to play catch up and try to get quick scores."

The Colts have trailed in every game but one (at Houston) this season. Playing catch up is quicker with passing offense. Even so, Colts head coach Chuck Pagano says Gore must get more carries.

"We all know that he's a dynamic guy in our offense," says Pagano. "He's averaging 4-5 (yards) a carry. We all know when he carries the ball X amount of times our win-loss record is what it is. Regardless of what the score is, we've got to stay with the run. We can't totally abandon the run game. I think everybody understands that."

But after falling behind in most games, the Colts have relied on the arm of Andrew Luck. The Colts' quarterback is struggling, with nine interceptions and a quarterback rating (76.3) and completion percentage (56.2 percent) down among the worst of NFL starting quarterbacks. More carries from Gore could relieve some of the offensive burden on Luck.  

The Colts generally play better the more Gore runs the football. His best and busiest game was also the Colts best, when Gore ran 22 times for 98 yards in a win at Houston. Gore ran 14 times for 86 yards in a win at Tennessee. The Colts have not had a 100-yard rusher in the last 47 games.

"I think we're doing a great job," said Gore. "I think as a whole on the ground we're taking steps the right way. We just have to keep going to get better. I think we will."

Gore is the NFL's active leader in career carries (2,540) and rushing yards (11,519). He has started 67 consecutive games, the longest streak among active running backs. The Colts want to protect the veteran from overuse and preserve his legs for late in the season. The team recently signed Ahmad Bradshaw to provide depth at running back. The Colts want to find a winning balance that allows Gore to get more work than he has so far without wearing down their workhorse. 

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Frank Gore Nets 75 Yards In Loss

Frank Gore carried the ball nine times for 43 yards and caught five balls for 32 yards on eight targets. The Colts fell to the Saints 27-21.

Fantasy Impact: Even with a plus match up, Frank Gore was unable to reward his owners with big numbers. Unfortunately, the Colts fell behind early and Gore was taken out of the equation. Gore has been a solid RB2 in 2015. However, with the stingy Panthers and Broncos defenses on tap, one should look for other options over the next two weeks.

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Frank Gore gets it done

Frank Gore: He did what he could with the chances he was afforded. With 78 yards on 13 carries, Gore finished the game with a 6-yard per-carry average. That's a winning brand of football right there. Gore gives the Colts a rushing threat they've not had at any point in the Chuck Pagano/Andrew Luck era. Gore's ability to make running lanes where none really exist is a testament to his craftiness as a runner, allowing the Colts to salvage bad plays that might otherwise result in losses. While it didn't pay off Sunday, Gore is giving this offense a dimension it has sorely lacked. About the only criticism is the fact that Gore could have have been given more chances against a Patriots run defense that ranks 22nd in the NFL. Gore is a weapon the Colts have to find ways to fully utilize.

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TD Streak Extended - 4 TDs Scored

FOUR #‎proCane TDs were scored in Week 5 of the NFL!

#‎Jags WR Allen Hurns (1), #‎Colts WR Andre Johnson (2), #Colts RB Frank Gore (1)

Andre Johnson’s TD on Thursday night extended the streak to 11 straight weeks a #proCane has scored a TD in the #‎NFL.

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Bill Belichick keen on stopping Colts' Frank Gore, Andre Johnson

When the New England Patriots take the field against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday night, they'll be focused on two savvy veterans. Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton are two of the team's biggest playmakers on offense, but Bill Belichick wants to make sure Frank Gore and Andre Johnson don't break loose.

"I think that Gore’s really looked good," Belichick told reporters Tuesday. "There are a lot of great examples of him running the ball downhill, breaking tackles and getting positive plays. Johnson had a big game last week against Houston, but both those guys, it looks like they are still productive, and we’re going to have to deal with the size and physicality and experience of both of them."

Gore and Johnson haven't had the best seasons thus far, but there's no doubting their ability to make an impact. Gore has averaged 4.3 yards per carry this season, while Johnson has just 128 yards receiving in five games. However, Johnson burned the Houston Texans for six catches, 77 yards, and two touchdowns in Week 5.

The Patriots are likely to face Luck this week rather than Matt Hasselbeck, who's started the past two games for the Colts. Belichick understands that it could have an impact on how often Johnson and Gore get the ball, but he's preparing for everything possible.

"It’s always hard to tell what somebody else’s game plan is," Belichick said. "Something is working, and they were getting the ball to Johnson, you keep doing it. How much of that was Hasselbeck related, game plan related, or just how the game unfolded? I’m not sure, but we have to be ready for all of them, and those two guys are certainly two players I personally have a lot of respect for, the kind of careers that they’ve had, but they’re playing very well now and we’re going to have to do a good job to control them."

Sunday's matchup has huge implications, not only for this season, but from last season as well. It was the AFC Championship game against the Colts that started the Deflategate saga, and it's the first meeting between the two teams since then.

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Frank Gore puts miscues behind him, has best performance this season

HOUSTON – Frank Gore ran with authority and with a purpose against the Texans. He needed a big game following a couple of non-Gore-like efforts this season.

In Thursday’s 27-20 win over the Texans, the first-year Colt looked like the Gore of old -- tough to tackle and powering his way to a game-high 98 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries.

“I told myself, just be me,” Gore said. “I’m watching film last week. Every time I get stopped, that’s not me. I found myself pressing. I said I’m just going to sit back, be patient, have fun, and trust my linemen.

“And whenever we get an opportunity, to go get it. And today that’s what I did.”

And Gore ran like he did when he played for San Francisco, where he was selected to five Pro Bowls and is one of 11 NFL players with at least eight 1,000-yard rushing seasons.

Thursday was Gore’s best game of the season after being signed by Indianapolis as an unrestricted free agent in March.

Against a Texans’ defense that features J.J Watt, Gore averaged a solid 4.5 yards per carry without a fumble. He took handoffs from quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who got another start with Andrew Luck inactive because of a right shoulder injury.

“He was unbelievable tonight,” offensive guard Joe Reitz said. “As Frank gets more and more comfortable with the offense, we’ll continue to see these special performances out of him. He’s the ultimate warrior and we love blocking for him, because we know we’re not going to block it right sometimes, and he’s still going to give us four or five yards.

“He’s a man’s man there, running the ball and that was a huge performance from Frank. I’m excited as the season goes on to watch him continue to grow with us.”
Gore’s longest run against the Texans was 20 yards.

At age 32, Gore’s performance, along with an offensive line that did not allow a sack, helped the Colts improve to 3-2 on the season and 3-0 in the AFC South. The Colts have won 16 straight division games.

Indianapolis rushed for only 110 yards, but they were yards that continued drives and led to scores. The Colts were running zone scheme and power scheme.
“They (were successful) but it wasn’t anything crazy,” Texans inside linebacker Brian Cushing said. “They got the points they needed.”

Gore’s previous rushing high this season was 86 yards with two touchdowns against Tennessee. His previous high in carries was 17 against Jacksonville.

The Texans’ focus on stopping Gore paved the way for the Colts completing a third-down pass with 1:37 remaining in the game from Hasselback to wide receiver T.Y. Hilton for 43 yards to Houston’s 37-yard line, sealing the win.

“I don’t feel like I have to make every play,” said Gore, who has rushed for more than 11,300 yards in his career.

In a 20-7 loss to the Jets in Week 2, Gore lost a fumble just in front of the end zone. He’s put the miscues behind him.

With the Colts riding a three-game winning streak, Gore said he just needs to calm down and stop pressing.

“Just have fun,” Gore said. “Whenever my number is called, just help this team. I’m going to fight. That’s what happened today.

“The O-line did a great job. I was up to the challenge and we did a great job on the ground.”

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How Andre Johnson and Frank Gore reunited as Colts

CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- It had been 14 years since they shared a national title at the University of Miami, and reconnecting, as it turns out, didn't take much for Frank Gore and Andre Johnson.

"It was really just a phone call," explains Johnson. "Two guys felt the same way about an organization, and they both made a decision to go try and get the job done."

The phone call -- which Gore placed to Johnson -- happened in March, just minutes after the Houston Texans announced they were releasing Johnson, ending his career there as the greatest offensive player in franchise history.

"It didn't really hit me until it was actually put out in the media," Johnson said. "Once that happened, I was just sitting in the house like, man ... what am I going to do? I had never been in that situation before."

Gore, meanwhile, knew exactly what Johnson was going through. Despite 49ers CEO Jed York promising to find a way to bring Gore back for 2015, the team opted to instead let their all-time rushing leader walk away a free agent. When reminded of his final game in San Francisco, Gore's easy-going smile fades.

"I cried coming off the field," he recalls. "They say they want you to be here, they want you to be here forever, they want you to retire [with them]." Gore shakes his head. "In your heart, you really know."

When Gore called Johnson that day, it was not to vent about his current situation. In fact, Gore had nearly made the move to Philadelphia to join head coach Chip Kelly. Kelly's other offseason moves, however -- which included the departures of running back LeSean McCoy, wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and quarterback Nick Foles -- made Gore uneasy.

"I know Chip is a great coach, but you have to have the right guys on the field who have the respect in this league. Seeing the pieces moving around, I don't know if I want to do that."

Gore called Johnson again.

"I said man, 'What you going to do?' He said, 'I don't know, it just happened,'" laughs Gore. "He said, 'I got you bro, I'll keep you in the loop.'"

Gore made it easy for Johnson to keep him in the loop -- he kept calling. And calling. And calling.

"The next day he called back again, 'what's up, man? Like, you hear anything?'" Johnson recalls with a laugh. "So, the third time, we talked. I asked him, 'Be honest, what team you think can win a Super Bowl right now?' He said, 'I like the Colts.' So, in my mind when he said that I was like, that's my team."

This summer in Coral Gables, Florida, home to their alma mater, Johnson and Gore worked out together, preparing for the first time in their careers to play for a different team than the one that signed them over a decade ago. Now, teammates once again, they sit together in the Hurricanes' Athletic Hall of Fame room, a place where Johnson has already been inducted as one of the most dominating receivers in the school's history. They are surrounded by photos and mementos of past Miami greats -- Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Reggie Wayne ... the list of future NFL Hall of Famers in that room seems endless, which made for a difficult roster to join as an incoming freshman.

"When I first got [to Miami], I see these big guys I'm like man, I don't know. I think I made the wrong decision in my head," recalls Gore, who almost went to Ole Miss over Miami. His pride in his choice still shows, as he is dressed in a bright orange and green tank top -- U colors -- and zebra striped shorts. "I was like, 'I have to get better.' That helped me as a football player."

Johnson, who's patterned Jordan T-shirt shows off the numerous arm tattoos going up his biceps and down his forearms, agrees. "I had to go through the same thing. You had to earn your stripes, and you were going to be challenged as soon as you walked in the door. When you first go through it you wonder, is it really like this? Am I this far behind? But at the same time, it's just adjusting to that next level of football."

Johnson's willingness to join Gore in Indianapolis goes back further than the national championship season they shared at Miami; their friendship began long before that.

"Our high school teams were rivals, and my mom and his mom went to high school together," explained Johnson. "[My mom] was telling me about this kid, Frank Gore, that plays running back. I just kind of kept up with his career, and what he accomplished ... it was pretty amazing."

Coming out of Dade County, Florida, both players had impressive high school careers. Johnson, coming from Miami Senior High School, was named first-team All-State and All-City, catching 31 passes for 908 yards and 15 touchdowns during his senior season. Gore, two years behind him at Coral Gables Senior High School, set a Dade County record for rushing yardage in a season in 2000 with 2,953 yards and 34 touchdowns. The two earned each other's respect almost immediately.

"He made it look so easy, you know?" recalls Gore of Johnson's high school days. "I just heard around the neighborhood how good of a guy he is and how hard of a worker he was. So, the night we played him, I stood up the whole game, to really see if he was the real deal. He just dominated. He could do [anything] on the field in high school."

Seventeen years after that game in Coral Gables, Gore and Johnson would board a plane to Indianapolis together, in hopes of signing with the Colts. Gore's process went quickly -- signing a three-year, $12 million deal. Johnson's deal didn't go so smoothly.

"I kind of got frustrated with the process," recalls Johnson. "Coach [Chuck Pagano] said, 'I'm not letting you leave until you sign the contract. ... Frank, you can go ahead and take the plane and go back home.'"

"I said no," said Gore. "I'm going to wait right here with him." Gore would wait in an outside hallway at the Colts facility for almost two hours while Johnson and his agent negotiated terms with the team. Finally, Johnson emerged, sporting a Colts baseball cap and a newly signed three-year, $21 million contract. Gore was ecstatic.

"He just took off running down the hall," remembers Johnson. "He jumped on me, gave me a big hug and we were just like, 'Let's go do it.'"

So far? It's been some frustration. The Colts aren't living up to preseason expectations, and both players have had ups and downs. But the two remain optimistic.
They've been around a long time, and it's a long season.

"Whenever you play any team sport you want to win trophies. You want to be known for winning the Super Bowl," explains Gore. "Knowing [Andre], watching him in high school, being at UM and knowing what he did in the NFL, it'd be a real blessing to finish our career with a trophy."

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Frank Gore's fumbling problems have to stop

INDIANAPOLIS – Running back Frank Gore's 22-yard run in overtime put the Colts in chip-shot territory for kicker Adam Vinatieri to make the game-winning field goal.

But ...

“I have to be smarter,” Gore said.

Gore led the Colts in rushing with 53 yards.

But ...

“Man, I have to be smarter,” he said.

The Colts managed to win an ugly game without starting quarterback Andrew Luck.

But ...

“I’m happy we got the win, but still, man, I know I can play football,” Gore said. “I have to play smarter.”

Gore, a man of few words, was beyond hard on himself inside the locker room after the Colts’ victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.

He acknowledged that he’s having a difficult time holding onto the ball with his left hand because of an injury. But Gore isn’t using that as an excuse for his play.

Gore is having a hard time stomaching that his fumbles have killed drives inside the 5-yard line twice in the past three games.

The Colts were in position to at least go up by three points on the Jaguars in the fourth quarter when a Jacksonville defender put his helmet on the ball and knocked it free from Gore. The Jaguars recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchback.

“Trying to make something happen instead of playing smart,” Gore said. “I’m putting us in bad situation. [We could have had a] touchdown or field goal. I feel like I’m playing hard, just have to play smarter.”

Sunday’s fumble came after Gore lost the ball inside the 5-yard line against the New York Jets in Week 2. He’s had more than two fumbles in a season seven times during his 11-year NFL career.

The Colts are having a difficult enough time scoring points as it is (18 points a game); the last thing they need is for their starting running back to continue coughing the ball up at the goal line.

“Can’t do it,” coach Chuck Pagano said. “We shot ourselves in the foot. We’re going in for a touchdown and put one on the ground. We’ve got to take care of it, take of the football.”

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TD Streak Extended - 8 TDs Scored

EIGHT #‎proCane TDs were scored in Week 3 of the NFL!

#‎Colts RB Frank Gore (2), WR Phillip Dorsett (1), #‎Panthers TE Greg Olsen (2), #‎Jags WR Allen Hurns (1), #‎Browns WR Travis Benjamin (1), #‎Seahawks TE Jimmy Graham (1).

Frank Gore's first TD extended the streak to 9 straight weeks a #proCane has scored a TD in the #‎NFL.

Phillip Dorsett scored his first ever NFL TD, and Frank Gore scored his first TD as a Colt.

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Frank Gore Moving Up The Record Charts

With the Colts leading the Titans 28–27, having already dug out of a 13-point hole and needing desperately to avoid falling to 0–3, Andrew Luck handed the ball off to Frank Gore at midfield. Gore rushed for 25 yards, his longest play from scrimmage of the young season. A Tennessee penalty tacked onto the end of the run put Indianapolis in the red zone, and Gore ended the drive with a six-yard touchdown run.

In the midst of that 25-yard run, Gore moved up to 19th on the all-time rushing list, passing Hall of Famer O.J. Simpson. With the touchdown, he passed Corey Dillon and slid into 18th.

Of the 17 players above Gore on the list, 13 are Hall of Famers (and LaDainian Tomlinson is a shoo-in for Canton when his time comes). Gore trails Edgerrin James by 999 yards, but with Fred Taylor and Steve Jackson well within range, the 32-year-old veteran is placing himself almost exclusively among Hall of Famers.

That’s not to say Gore has now had a better career than Simpson, who led the league in rushing four times in a five-year span from 1972–76. Simpson also has better yards/game and yards/carry rates than Gore, whose raw total is boosted by virtue of playing a 16-game schedule.

Here’s a comparison between them:
Frank Gore
O.J. Simpson

So Simpson had a more prolific NFL career (not mention that Heisman trophy at USC). But with Gore still playing, and not just chasing a ring with Luck and the Colts but contributing to the cause, he is moving up the leaderboard into some select company.

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Frank Gore on fumble: 'I’m better than that. I can’t let that happen'

After a lengthy phone call with someone surely without answers, Frank Gore arched back in a folding chair and clutched his head.

How did that ball, this game and maybe this season slip away at the doorstep of a touchdown midway through Monday night’s third quarter?

“(It) just came out of my hands; it slipped out,” Gore said in a quiet voice in a depressed Indianapolis Colts locker room after a 20-7 loss to the New York Jets at Lucas Oil Stadium. “I messed up.”

The next words were difficult for the 11-year NFL running back to say.

“I’m better than that,” he said. “I can’t let that happen.”

In a game full of botched plays, Gore coughing up the ball on third down at the 1 altered the rest of the night. That was the first of two missed opportunities for possible touchdowns.

Instead, Darrelle Revis recovered the fumble in the end zone for a Jets touchback.

“That would have been a big touchdown,” Gore said. “The game would have went differently if I would have just went in and ran into the end zone.”

The Colts (0-2) had five turnovers: Three interceptions, two fumbles. They also had 11 penalties. That mess came on the heels of last week’s 27-14 loss at Buffalo.

The offense, hyped as potent – remember when Andrew Luck was touted as the NFL’s leading MVP candidate? – has gone to consecutive halftimes scoreless for the first time since 1997.

“The fumble, the penalties, the turnovers (pause) we’re driving the ball, you know?” Gore said. “Oh, man, (we) just keep hurting ourselves.

“If you want to win in this league you can’t fumble, you can’t (have) penalties, turnovers. You can’t do that in this league. The last two weeks that’s what’s really been hurting. Everybody said the same, ‘We’ve got to stop beating ourselves.’”

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Colts Want to Get Frank Gore Going After Bills Loss

BUFFALO, NY --- It was not the start Frank Goreicon-article-link envisioned in a Colts uniform, rushing for 31 yards on 8 carries (3.9 yards per carry) at Buffalo week 1, and that’s something the offense wants to fix moving forward.

“I feel like you have to run the ball. You have to do both. If the run is there, it’s there. If the pass is there, it’s there. We gotta do both to win in this league,” said Gore after the game Sunday. “We did have things going, but big penalties. We can’t do that.”

The Colts reached midfield on their opening drive, before a holding penalty and false start backed the offense up to its own 35 to make it 1st and 25. The drive would only go two more yards after that.

“We have to get the run game going,” said right guard Todd Herremansicon-article-link after the loss. “There’s no other way around it. If we don’t get that going, then our pass game is going to suffer, because of it.”

That was the case in the 1st half, when the Colts offense was shutout by Buffalo. Indianapolis called just 7 rushes compared to 26 passes, including a streak of 18 consecutive pass plays, after the Colts ran it 3 of the first 6 plays with Gore for 13 yards.

“Still got to be able to run it more,” said Head Coach Chuck Pagano after the game. “You’re not going to survive by the pass only. I think everybody understands that.”

Part of the reason for the lack of run plays could have been what Andrew Luckicon-article-link was seeing across the line of scrimmage. Built into the Colts offense is the ability to read the defense pre-snap and choose from a few options.

“They’re going to present you with certain things,” said Pagano,  “and we give the offense the ability to, based on the look, to give us the best play.”

After watching tape of the first half, the Bills had at least seven defenders in the box on 16 of the 33 1st half plays. All but 1 of the Colts’ 7 first half rushing attempts came with those heavier defensive boxes. That meant Luck had at least one receiver 1-on-1 somewhere for most of the half. He hit a few of those targets, but the Bills secondary held up extremely well on the back end, often in single coverage.

Andrew Luck said Monday the way the game was going dictated the streak of 18 straight pass plays in the first half.

“Yeah, it does a bit,” said Luck, when asked Monday if all the Buffalo blitzes impacted the ability to run the ball.  “It’s not fun trying to run the ball with nine guys in the box, eight guys in the box. That’s hard. That’s hard for any team. I think we’ll improve.”

Even against heavy boxes though, Pagano answered whether you just have to try and run it anyway sometimes, with a running back like Frank Gore who has faced 8 men in the box more than any running back over the past three seasons.

“Absolutely, because it’s B.Y.O.B. when they put the eighth guy in there. If you can’t get them blocked, then that’s be your own blocker,” said Pagano Monday.  “Run through them, run them over, run around them and make them miss. He’s done that for a long, long time. So we’ve got to give him and the other runners that opportunity.”

At the end of the game, the Colts finished with 49 passes versus 17 rushing attempts (4 of those were Luck scrambles). With Gore missing some second half snaps with calf cramps, rookies Josh Robinsonicon-article-link and Tyler Vargaicon-article-link only added 13 yards on 5 carries (2.6 ypc).

The Colts rushing attack will get that chance to improve against another stiff defense in the home opener on Monday night. The Jets held the Browns to just 46 yards on 12 carries in their season opener, after finishing 2014 as a top-5 defense against the run.

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Frank Gore Not Sure If He Will Play Saturday Night

Frank Gore on what he would say if Chuck Pagano left the decision up to him to play this weekend:

“Then I would go to Andrew Luck and see what he wants.”

Bowen’s Analysis: Speaking to the media on Wednesday, Gore didn’t lean one way or another on whether he will play on Saturday night in St. Louis. Gore received two carries last Saturday, establishing his goal of wanting to get tackled before the real action gets here.

It might actually be a blessing if Gore doesn’t play on Saturday (Gore has 13 total carries in the last four preseasons, so more reps aren’t really needed). Without Gore, that would allow for more first-team snaps to guys like Vick Ballard and Josh Robinson. You know what you are getting out of Gore. You are unsure of what Ballard and Robinson will look like against a first-team defense.

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Frank Gore: Colts' Andrew Luck is 'a football god'

When it comes to falling in love, the stages are smitten, head-over-heels, twitterpated and the honeymoon rapture that highly decorated Colts veterans Frank Gore and Andre Johnson are currently experiencing for Andrew Luck.

After a dozen years in Houston, it took Johnson a mere three months in Indianapolis to decide that Luck is the best QB in the game.

Earlier this month, Gore told NFL Media's Nate Burleson that Luck is a "different breed" who "runs the huddle" like no other quarterback he had seen in a decade with the 49ers.

Now Gore is convinced that Luck is a gridiron deity.

"He runs meetings like a coach. Basically, I'm playing with a coordinator on the field," Gore told The Jim Rome Show on Wednesday. "He's a football god. He sees everything. He sees the big picture of everything. ... He lets me know when [there's] something I don't see. He's just different. How he's in the huddle, off the field, in the meetings, he runs it. He runs the show, even in the off-season, he ran it. One day he had running backs, the next day he has receivers. He's just different. He's a football God."

High praise indeed, but it's not just limited to Luck's teammates.

Back in May, offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton pointed out that Luck's perspective and understanding is already at the level of an NFL coach after just three years in the league.

"It's well documented that he's a smart guy," Hamilton explained, "but now I think his overall football acumen, or should I say football aptitude, is at a point where his feedback and/or his suggestions, I really take heed of the advice that he gives."

We've lauded Luck's incredible pocket movement as the "eighth wonder of the world." In addition to ideal size and athleticism, his arm talent and willingness to make tough throws rank with Aaron Rodgers as the best in the league.

For all of those obvious physical gifts, though, it's Luck's football aptitude and leadership that have led Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin, former Giants coach Jim Fassel and NFL Media analyst Charley Casserly to predict that the Colts' quarterback will end up joining the pantheon of all-time greats.

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Frank Gore: 'I want to let (the fans) know I'm here'

This is all you need to know about how much Frank Gore loves to play football.

After his first carry for the Indianapolis Colts, he was supposed to come out. He did not come out. He talked his way back onto the Lucas Oil Stadium turf.

For a preseason game. For the start of his 11th NFL season.

"After the first carry, I guess they wanted to take me out. 'At least one more.' You know, I was happy to be out there with my guys," Gore said. "New team, all the fans.

"I want to let them know I'm here."

Oh, everybody knew that already.

Gore carried twice for 10 yards in Saturday night's 23-11 loss to the Chicago Bears. But those aren't numbers that matter.

What matters is that Gore, 32, rushed for 1,000 or more yards in eight of the past nine seasons for the San Francisco 49ers. What matters is that he signed a three-year contract with the Colts worth $12 million. And the Colts will get their money's worth if he even approaches such productivity.

When an offensive tackle such as Anthony Castonzo says Gore is fun to have a teammate, that matters.

"He's got physical tools that allow him to be as successful as he is," Castonzo said. "But he's also very savvy. He loves the game of football, and he knows it very well."

Castonzo said Gore is a collaborator and communicator, telling linemen what he sees and what he wants. That helps the offensive linemen, who in turn help Gore.
"That's huge to be on the same page with a running back like that," Castonzo said.

Gore said he was excited to be playing at all – practice, preseason, regular season. He was withheld from the first preseason game and said he spent all week looking forward to this one.

He said if you'd seen him back playing college football at Miami (Fla.), the last thing you'd project is an 11th-year NFL running back.

"It's a blessing. I take advantage of it," he said.

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Frank Gore has a big fan in Matt Forte

With Chicago Bears holding joint practices this week with Indianapolis Colts in advance of their preseason game, two of the NFL's best running backs are getting a chance to spend some time together.

Bears running back Matt Forte has known Colts back Frank Gore since Forte's rookie season in 2008 and the two have trained together in the offseason previously.

"Great player. A guy who has been doing it a long time,” Forte said of Gore, via ESPN. “Frank is not a guy who has to come out and you have to stay on him to do stuff. He’s going to be a hard worker. He’s a very gifted running back in his vision and he’s quick, so if the hole is there, he’s going to find it. They’re getting a solid player. He’s going to be productive. He knows how to take care of his body as well. That’s why he’s shown he should be playing this long.”

Gore, who joined the Colts in the offseason after 10 seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, is coming off a 1,000-yard season and has run for more than 11,000 yards in his career. Forte said Gore's style of play offers teams what they're looking for in a successful back.

“I always talk about how Frank is,” Forte said. “He’s got a low center of gravity. But he still runs with good pad level, so he can run over people. But he’s also shifty. So Frank has that low center of gravity, which helps him out in breaking tackles. And then he has great vision, which helps him hit the holes. So in a running back, when you look at scouting him, you want a guy who has great pad level and good vision. That’s Frank.”

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Frank Gore Gears Up

Frank Gore is ready. Colts management knows this is Andrew Luck’s window. They acted to surround him with more options and signed an offensive weapon in veteran running back Frank Gore. The longtime 49er has been impressive in camp and has yet to take a day off of practice. He’s a total workhorse. The Colts need a 1,000-yard season out of Gore (the team hasn’t had a 1,000-yard back since Joseph Addai in 2007). “He practices hard, really hard, he runs hard in practice,” Luck said. “The old adage ‘practice how you play,’ he does that.” In 10 seasons Gore has come up short of 1,000 yards just twice. The Colts need Gore to be twice what they thought they were getting in Trent Richardson.

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Andrew Luck on Frank Gore's blocking skills: 'He protects his butt off'

ANDERSON, Ind. -- Indianapolis Colts tight end Dwayne Allen was in midsentence answering a question when teammate and running back Frank Gore walked by.
Allen stopped. Looked, pointed and said what many inside the organization have noticed.

"He may be quiet around [the media], but that guy is a beast. I mean a beast," Allen said. "He runs like he's in his 20s still, but what doesn't get talked about or noticed as much as his blocking."

Gore's rushing résumé is well documented -- eight 1,000-yard rushing seasons in his 10-year NFL career -- and he should be the perfect piece to go with quarterback Andrew Luck and the passing game. The Colts finished 22nd in the league in rushing last season, and Luck knows very little about having a player rush for 100 yards in a game because it's only happened once in his 53 career NFL games.

"Frank was born to run and what I mean by that is Frank has a great combination of size and the ability to change direction," Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton said. "But when you look at his leg cycle and his ability to accelerate and not need a lot of room or space or it does not take him a lot of time to get from zero to 10 in a sense. I think that's just a gift that he has, a natural talent. That's one of the many things that have made him an exceptional pro for a long time in this league."

What should quickly become obvious about Gore during the preseason is his ability to block. He excels at being able to pick up the blitzing linebacker or defensive end coming off the edge trying to get to Luck. Gore's ability to do that is significant when you take into consideration the concerns the Colts have on their offensive line.

"He protects his butt off," Luck said. "Maybe one of the best in this generation of football players with protecting the quarterback. I know I'm learning a lot from him about protection and how running backs see things, and I know he's passing it along to the younger running backs. He's a great addition."

Gore had no choice but to be a good blocker. That was the message delivered to him when he was at the University of Miami, which was turning out running backs nonstop back in the 2000s.

"It's grown men out there," Gore said. "I would say that my college coach and my running backs coach in San Francisco, they were similar. If you couldn't protect you couldn't be on the field. I think that's pretty big in this league, especially when you have a guy like No. 12."

Gore isn't wired like some 32-year-old veterans in the league. While some players aren't too keen on training camp practices, Gore wants to be on the field.

Every day for every snap.

You often see him passing up wearing shorts for sweatpants in the 90-degree heat. That's just how he operates.

"Why not practice? I like being out there," Gore said. "I get paid to play football. That's my job and that's how you get better."

That's just Frank Gore, and that's why he's the perfect fit for the Colts.

"The way I know Frank, football is life for Frank," Hamilton said. "What I mean by that is, I don't know if we ever have a conversation where we are not talking about football. Even when I try and probe and ask him, 'How's your family, so on and so forth?' It goes back to, 'Hey coach, what do I need to do to get better?' He has a passion for the game. He's a great teammate and a leader of men. Frank has been a welcome addition to our team."

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Colts hope Frank Gore can provide boost to running game

ANDERSON, Ind. (AP) The Indianapolis Colts are hoping Frank Gore can finally get their running game going.

At the very least, there's a good feeling and a sense of confidence in Indy's backfield.

Things are starting to fall into place for an offense that has been inconsistent on the ground in recent years.

''I feel like it's going the right way,'' Daniel ''Boom'' Herron said. ''We made some great moves during the offseason, got some new guys who have come in.''

Things started to turn in a new direction for the Colts when the team waived Trent Richardson and then signed unrestricted free agent Gore in March.

Gore, a five-time Pro Bowl running back, rushed for more than 1,100 yards in each of the past four years while with the San Francisco 49ers.

Adding Gore to the mix has created the most excitement for the running game since the Colts acquired Richardson in 2013.

The midseason trade with Cleveland for Richardson turned out to be a bust, and one that Colts general manager Ryan Grigson has been criticized for making.

Now with Gore, Indy hopes its backfield can give quarterback Andrew Luck the balance he needs.

''We have some great backs and a great O-line,'' Herron said. ''If we can just get the chemistry and everything down, I think we can do some great things.''

Richardson struggled to produce much during his time in Indianapolis and Herron stepped up late last season. Now the fourth-year running back is joined by Gore, along with Vick Ballard and rookie Josh Robinson, whom the Colts selected in the sixth round of this year's draft.

Ballard spent most of the past two years on injured reserve. He tore his Achilles tendon during training camp last year. And after starting in the regular-season opener, Ballard suffered a season-ending knee injury during a drill in practice in 2013.

He missed practice during training camp at Anderson University on Monday after straining his hamstring last week - an injury that doesn't worry Ballard all that much.

''I've been through a torn Achilles and had a knee reconstructed,'' Ballard said. ''So a little muscle strain is nothing but a walk in the park.''

Ballard can still play a big role in the way Indy runs the ball this season. In his rookie season in 2012, he played in all 16 games and started the final 12 that season.
Now he's ready to go this season.

''There's a lot of excitement, but at the same time I want to be smart because I want to be a part of it,'' Ballard said. ''I can't go out there and haul it from day one. I have to take baby steps to get back to playing form.''

Richardson was brought in to lead the way when Ballard went out and the Colts never got a consistent running game going. They only ran for 1,612 yards in 16 games.

Whether Ballard is in the mix much or not, he's confident the Colts have a backfield that can do some good things.

''I feel like anybody you put in can be productive, especially with our offensive line there,'' he said. ''I feel like if one person comes out, we won't miss a beat.''

But there is one common theme. When Gore joined the team it added more balance to the offense.

''We're trying not to be one-dimensional,'' Robinson said. ''Just being able to run and pass. When you include Frank Gore we have a lot of depth on the running depth chart.''

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Colts' first week of camp good for Dorsett, Gore

Almost a week into Indianapolis Colts training camp, the early reviews are clear.

Rookie wide receiver Phillip Dorsett has speed and game, veteran (don't call him old) running back Frank Gore can still accelerate, the offensive line remains a question mark and sack master Robert Mathis looks cute when he plays with his three children on the sideline.

“Timetables” remain a thing, including Mathis' timetable to return, which is sooner (according to Mathis, who's shooting for the opener) or later (according to Jim Irsay, who projects another month after that). Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton's timetable for a new deal remains fluid, as well, although agent Drew Rosenhaus chatted up reporters with the notion that both sides are fully in love and only the details remain to be worked out.

The good news revolves primarily around Dorsett and Gore, the fresh ingredients thrown into the Colts' offense along with wide receiver Andre Johnson. Johnson might end up making the biggest impact, but he's not going to be flashy in training camp in the same way Dorsett and Gore have been.

Dorsett arrived known for his speed, but he's demonstrated the other facets of his game, such as his ability to change directions on a dime, maneuver his body in mid-air and display incredible hands.

It was natural to question the Colts' decision to use a first-round pick on Dorsett when they had other seemingly more pressing needs. But there's no question, in the limited view of training camp, that he can deliver.

“His football instincts, and his ability to take the information from the meetings out to the practice field. I'll have to give him a double thumbs up from that standpoint,” Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton said. “He's a guy that our quarterback is starting to trust even more and the more reps that he gets with Andrew (Luck) the more he will be able to contribute in our offense.”

Gore, meanwhile, darts his way through offensive holes with a quickness and purpose that reflect his previous accomplishments. It looks stunning to Colts observers after so long watching Trent Richardson's slow-motion approach.

There's an all-business demeanor to Gore that should be admired. He seems to attack every day as a player who has something to prove.

“When everybody else is in the offseason traveling to the Bahamas or Aruba and going here and going there and getting on boats and doing things like that,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said, “(Gore) is down in Miami grinding.”

Gore's age (32) and 10 years of grinding in the NFL give some people pause. The Colts see nothing but freshness, and his play in the limited time so far shows a veteran player but not a worn-down player.

“He looks great,” Pagano said.

As for the offensive line, the sudden release of right tackle Gosder Cherilus – a business decision to admit Cherilus wasn't effective – made it clear the Colts are confident in Jack Mewhort moving from left guard to right tackle. Mewhort seems comfortable in the spot, too. It should be upgrade.

Anthony Castonzo – another big cog with a contract to address – brings stability and production at left tackle, but Lance Louis at left guard and Khaled Holmes at center still must prove they can deliver consistently. That's a question that won't be answered in training camp, but will show up, positively or negatively, once the season hits.

That brings us to Mathis, who was put on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list to open camp. That was not a surprise, but Irsay's proclamation that he's likely out until late September or early October is a revision of Mathis' previous goal.

That could be Irsay tempering expectations so no one worries about a setback if Mathis doesn't play before early October. Let's say he makes his debut Oct. 4 against Jacksonville. That would give him two weeks to sharpen his play before the Oct. 18 game against the New England Patriots.

Sounds like perfect timing, after all.

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Frank Gore on Andrew Luck: He runs the huddle, I’ve never had that before

During 10 years with the 49ers, running back Frank Gore played with a lot of quarterbacks.

Some of them were better than others and he made playoff runs with both Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick running the offense, but no one’s going to confuse the members of that group with Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. Now that Gore’s had a little time to work with Luck, it doesn’t come as a big surprise to learn that he thinks this will wind up being the best offense he’s been part of in the NFL.

“I think if we keep working and keep going and get that gelled, I think by far it can,” Gore said to Nate Burleson of NFL Media. “Especially with No. 12, man. I’m not knocking my other quarterbacks, I respect them other guys, but being around this guy a couple months, he’s a different breed. He’s smart. He makes me feel young. He runs the huddle. I never had that.”

It’s not a knock on any other quarterback Gore’s played with to say that Luck’s in a different class just as it isn’t a knock on his 49ers offenses to say that this Colts group is capable of bigger things than they produced. If the defense we saw in the AFC Championship Game hasn’t improved, though, Gore probably won’t go any farther than he did with the Niners.

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Pagano goes back to Miami roots to bolster Colts

There’s something about those University of Miami connections for Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano.

For the past three years, it was Pagano and veteran wide receiver Reggie Wayne. Now that Wayne is no longer part of the Colts’ picture, it’s running back Frank Gore and wide receiver Andre Johnson.

Wayne, Gore and Johnson were all standouts at Miami while Pagano was an assistant coach. He ended up in having a hand in all three players winding up as Hurricanes as a recruiter.

Flash forward several years. Pagano had just been named as Indianapolis’ new head coach. Wayne had just played out his contract with the Colts and was fielding offers from several teams around the National Football League.

Just when it looked as if Wayne was headed out the door, presumably to New England, in stepped Pagano the recruiter once again. He convinced his long-time friend to stay with the Colts and be an important part in the remodeling of the franchise.

When the decision was made to finally part ways to Wayne after the 2014 season, largely due to age and a series of injuries that had finally begun to affect his on-field performance, Pagano went right back to his Miami connections.

This time it was Gore and Johnson. Both players had received lucrative contract offers from other teams. In fact, for awhile it appeared as if the former San Francisco 49ers running back was headed to Philadelphia.

But, as Indianapolis general manager Ryan Grigson likes to say, once Pagano gets a potential roster addition in the door, the chances are pretty good that they’re not going to leave. Such was the case with Gore and Johnson.

Both players are expected to be important cogs in the Colts’ offense this season. With Wayne gone, Johnson steps in to give Indianapolis another Pro Bowl caliber wide receiver. He gives the franchise something it hasn’t had for quite a long time, a big physical receiver.

While Johnson’s former team, the Houston Texans, decided to part ways, Pagano and Grigson both firmly believe the veteran receiver still has a lot left to offer.
“He’s the same. Same guy, just better version. From day one from recruiting him and then when he came to the University of Miami as a freshman until now. He’s a tireless worker. He doesn’t say anything. He does his job,” the Colts head coach offered.

“He’s where he is supposed to be, and he’s very trustworthy, accountable, a great teammate. Guys can look to him and say, ‘OK I’m a young receiver and I’m going to get in his hip pocket and whatever he does, I am doing.’ He just does everything the right way, plus he has a ton of talent.”

Pagano has the same feel for Gore, who may make his mark just as much as a pass blocker as he will as a runner.

“Certainly you have to have the mental aptitude to understand protections. You are going to get a bunch of exotic blitzes nowadays. People are going to challenge your protections on every third down situation. From a mental standpoint, [Gore’s] got the football IQ and aptitude to understand that and get on the right people. Then from a physical standpoint, he’s a tough guy,” the coach said.

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Colts hoping Frank Gore can provide boost to ground game

ANDERSON, Ind. (AP) -- Frank Gore came to Indianapolis to win a championship.

The Colts needed him to get their running game off the ground.

Now it's time for this seemingly perfect combination to start producing results.

''I am happy to be here. I wanted to be here as a free agent. I'm here to come and do the best that I can and be the best player that I can be in every phase of the game: blocking, catching and running,'' Gore said after Tuesday morning's workout. ''I want to do some good things here.''

While the 32-year-old Gore may not possess the upside of younger, cheaper running backs, he certainly provides the Colts with something they've been lacking -- a known commodity.

Coach Chuck Pagano has preached the importance of power football from the moment he arrived in 2012.

But while Gore excelled as the lynchpin in San Francisco, the Colts kept going through players. Donald Brown left in free agency, Vick Ballard and Ahmad Bradshaw finished the past two seasons on injured reserve and Trent Richardson flamed out.

The results didn't change much, either.

Indy still hasn't produced a 1,000-yard runner since 2007, the year after it won the Super Bowl. And Ballard's 814-yard season in 2012 is the only time a Colts runner has topped 700 yards since their 2009 AFC championship season.

Now the Colts are asking the stocky, steady Gore to solve the problem.

''He's got great vision. He makes great decisions, great reads and he's very decisive,'' Pagano said. ''When he puts a foot in the ground he gets north and south and he can jump cut and do all those kinds of things.''

It shows.

Since winning San Francisco's starting job in 2006, Gore has topped the 1,000-yard mark eight times, been selected to five Pro Bowls and helped the 49ers reach three NFC championship games. He finished his time there as the 49ers career rushing leader (11,073) and second in franchise history in rushing touchdowns (64).

While some questioned whether Gore might be running out of steam, the Colts didn't. Instead, after Gore initially agreed to sign with Philadelphia, Indy welcomed his change of mind.

So far, Gore looks like he hasn't lost a step.

During the first three days of training camp, he's broken long runs, caught long passes, plowed through hopeful tacklers and, perhaps most important, protected Andrew Luck against the blitz.

But the Colts also realize that most teams in today's game need multiple backs to be successful, so they've worked on the depth.

Daniel ''Boom'' Herron, who replaced Richardson as the starter late last season, is back.

Ballard has been cleared to practice after missing 15 games in 2013 with a torn ACL in his right knee and all of 2014 with a torn left Achilles tendon. But Ballard left Tuesday afternoon's practice after his left hamstring tightened up.

Indy also drafted Josh Robinson in the sixth round and still has Zurlon Tipton from last year's team, too.

Add the new weapons in the passing game and what they hope will be an improved offensive line, and the Colts believe they can alleviate some of the burden Luck's had to carry without a ground game -- if Gore is indeed the missing piece.

''We did the numbers, we crunched all that stuff and took a good look at it, but tape doesn't lie,'' Pagano said. ''He has taken great care of himself so there was enough there, and the type of player that he is, how he is wired, his competitive nature. All those kind of things. He looks great.''

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Frank Gore set up for success with Colts

Chuck Pagano, Colts head coach: "If you want to try and stop (Frank Gore) and slow him down, I'd recommend you being in an eight-man spacing."

Our analysis: Around the NFL's Chris Wesseling wrote a dynamite piece detailing why Gore will be able to thrive in Indy this season. Chief among the reasons is the presence of Andrew Luck and an all-star passing attack, which will prevent defenses from lining up in the eight-man fronts Pagano referred to in the quote above. Gore, while lacking the explosion of his youth, will be playing in the best offense of his career and should be able to post RB2 numbers easily. So draft him accordingly.

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Andrew Luck's arm gives Frank Gore a chance for rushing success

INDIANAPOLIS -- One of the reasons running back Frank Gore decided to sign with the Indianapolis Colts -- outside of being on title-contending team -- is because of quarterback Andrew Luck.

Luck's arm -- and the playmakers he has to throw to -- will force defenses to be honest and not load the box to try to stop Gore.

I went back and looked at Gore's rushing numbers from last season and it turns out that 69 percent of his rushing attempts were made against a defense that had seven or fewer players in the box.

Gore rushed for 833 yards and three touchdowns on 179 attempts when there were seven men in the box. When it came to facing at least eight men in the box, Gore rushed 76 times for 273 yards and a touchdown last season. Gore's 833 yards against seven or fewer defenders in the box would have been enough to lead the Colts in total rushing in each of the past seven seasons.

As far as the Colts go, Trent Richardson was their leading rusher when facing seven or fewer defenders in the box. He had 134 attempts for 445 yards and a touchdown last season.

The Colts didn't have much success rushing the ball when teams loaded the box against them. Richardson, Ahmad Bradshaw, Andrew Luck, Zurlon Tipton and Daniel “Boom” Herron combined to rush for 153 yards on 59 attempts, which is more than 100 yards less than what Gore rushed for.

The numbers don't lie.

Gore should have plenty of success running the ball this season if the offensive line does its job because the Colts have too many weapons on offense for defenses to load the box to try to slow Gore down.

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Frank Gore set up for smashing success with Colts

Cardinals Pro Bowl defensive end Calais Campbell recently asserted on NFL Total Access that Frank Gore was the biggest loss among the mass exodus of 49ers stars this past offseason.

"He was the heart and soul of that offense -- and really that team," Campbell explained. "... Playing against him, he is the guy. He's really the one we had to stop."
Now that Gore is 32 years old and playing outside the comfortable confines of San Francisco for the first time in his 11-year career, can the Colts expect their new backfield savior to keep stiff-arming Father Time?

The answer is a resounding yes, for several reasons.

Still the 'Inconvenient Truth'?
Will Gore's NFL swan song play out like Corey Dillon in New England (1,635 rushing yards, 12 touchdowns) and Stephen Davis in Carolina (1,444 rushing yards, 8 touchdowns) or more closely resemble the late-career flops of Steven Jackson in Atlanta (543 rushing yards, 6 touchdowns) and Emmitt Smith in Arizona (256 rushing yards, 2 touchdowns)?

If his 2014 season had ended in Week 15, we might assume the latter.

Gore was coming off the least effective stretch of his career, failing to top the 100-yard mark in nine consecutive games while averaging a scant 3.46 yards per carry over that span. The five-time Pro Bowler was being phased out of game plans with the offensive line severely backsliding from its 2012-2013 dominance.

Once rookie Carlos Hyde came down with a late-season ankle sprain, though, the 49ers saddled up their workhorse for the final two games of the season.

What followed was one of the most impressive two-game stretches of Gore's career. He responded with 302 yards on 61 carries, marking the first time he had rushed for at least 140 yards in back-to-back games since November of 2006.

Although Gore may be the NFL's slowest starting running back at this stage of his career -- he finished near the bottom in Pro Football Focus' Elusive Rating and Breakaway Percentage metrics -- he remains effective via uncanny patience, vision and toughness.

Gore has actually averaged more rushing yards per season (1,165) since age 28 than he did in his first six years (1,069) in the league.

His 158-yard performance versus the Chargers in a 38-35 Week 16 loss was one of the most impressive all-around games by any tailback in 2014.

What does he offer the Colts after two years of watching Trent Richardson run up the back of his offensive linemen?

"Sustainability. He's a chain mover," NFL Films Senior Producer Greg Cosell recently explained. "I don't think there's been a back in the last five, six, seven years who has been able to get through small cracks at the point of attack better than Frank Gore. Frank Gore is your classic four-, five-, six-yard runner.

"He's probably past the point where he's going to break a 40-yarder. That wasn't really his game anyway. ... He would get so skinny going through the point of attack and come out the other end, I'd have to watch the play four or five times on film and try to figure out how did he get through there. And that's what he gives this offense. He gives them a sustaining element, so they'll be in more favorable down-and-distance situations."

Pep Hamilton's scheme
Gore didn't land in Indianapolis simply because of his University of Miami connections to coach Chuck Pagano, associate head coach Rob Chudzinski and star wideout Andre Johnson.

The big draw, Gore told NFL Media analyst LaDainian Tomlinson, was the presence of offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton, who learned under Jim Harbaugh at Stanford.

Ever since the ill-fated Richardson move in September of 2013, Hamilton has been crafting a power-running scheme featuring inside runs designed to soften the interior of opposing defenses.

It's the same scheme under which Gore thrived for the past half-decade in one of the NFL's most consistently successful power attacks.

Entering his twilight years, Gore wouldn't succeed in just any offense. Fortunately, Hamilton's is the one best suited to emphasize his unparalleled patience and vision.

Lighter boxes
"If you want to try and stop him and slow him down," Pagano said in early June, "I'd recommend you being in an eight-man spacing."

Pagano was referring to loading eight defenders in the box -- a tactic defensive coaches habitually used versus the 49ers.

According to Football Outsiders, Gore faced eight- or nine-man fronts on a league-high 30 percent of his carries last season, compared to the league average of 14.4 percent. In fact, Gore has had the highest percentage of carries against eight- or nine-man fronts for three consecutive seasons.

He can rest assured that won't be a problem with Andrew Luck's coach-like powers of perception and unique arm talent directing the Colts' offense.

Going back to college, as NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks explained in an informative 2013 feature, Luck pummeled opponents with a power running game that featured "check with me" calls based on defensive alignment.

If the presence of Gore leads to more loaded boxes, Luck will pick secondaries apart with high-percentage opportunities on the outside in early downs.

Worried about the Colts' much-beleaguered offensive line? Don't be.

As is often the case, a poor pass-protection unit is perfectly adequate in paving lanes for the ground game.

Indianapolis running backs not named "Richardson" have averaged 4.7 yards on 350 carries over the past two years.

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Reggie Wayne excited to see Andre Johnson, Frank Gore with Colts

INDIANAPOLIS -- Three of the Indianapolis Colts' new players have ties to receiver Reggie Wayne, who spent the past 14 seasons with the franchise.

The Colts signed running back Frank Gore and receiver Andre Johnson and drafted receiver Phillip Dorsett during the offseason.

All three attended the University of Miami, just like Wayne. And they all work out in Miami, just like Wayne.

That’s why it’s not weird -- anymore at least -- for Wayne to see Gore and Johnson playing for the Colts.

“I would say yes, but when they’re not up here they’re down [in Miami] and I see them working out and stuff,” Wayne said. “It’s funny cause you sit back and laugh, it almost was a University of Miami receiving corp. Andre Johnson always says, ‘I wish you were still there, it would have been exciting.’ Those guys are great friends of mine. I’m excited for them. I’m happy for them. I wish them the best and they’re great guys. You guys know about me doing stuff in the community. Those guys are also community guys. You’ll be seeing them do stuff around the city.”

The Colts decided not to re-sign Wayne, 37, in March. They turned around and signed Johnson as his replacement. Johnson is 34 years old, but he’s still an upgrade over Wayne at that position. Wayne said last week that he plans to play a 15th season.

Johnson and Wayne talked before the former Houston Texan receiver signed with the Colts back in March.

“We understand that as athletes that’s the way it goes and I’m just thankful I was able to do what I was able to do for so long,” Wayne said. “Not everybody is blessed enough to do it. I’m still going to be cheering from afar. Just have to ride the wave as best as you can.”

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Frank Gore, Andre Johnson give Colts passing offseason grade

With offseason workouts and minicamps in the rearview mirror and training camps just a few weeks away, we assess the Indianapolis Colts' offseason moves and assign a letter grade in the video above.

Best move: The Colts were a better team within hours of the start of free agency when they signed veterans Andre Johnson, Frank Gore, Trent Cole and Kendall Langford on March 10. Johnson replaces Reggie Wayne as the Colts’ primary possession receiver and Gore is the running back quarterback Andrew Luck has yet to have in the NFL. Gore is a significant upgrade over the disappointing Trent Richardson. Gore has rushed for at least 1,000 yards in eight of his 10 seasons and his addition means defenses will have to make a choice on who they’ll focus on -- Luck and his skill players on the outside or Gore. Luck should have his best supporting cast on offense in his young NFL career. Cole gives Indianapolis an additional pass rusher at linebacker to go with Robert Mathis, Bjoern Werner, Jonathan Newsome and Erik Walden. Core will start if Mathis (Achilles) is not ready by Week 1.

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Frank Gore faced 8+ in box more than anyone

Frank Gore ran against eight or more defenders in the box a league-high 76 times last season.

Defenses understandably had zero respect for Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers' pass game. Gore's move to Andrew Luck means he'll be operating against six- and seven-man boxes a majority of the time, and he also projects to be used as a receiver far more. No back in the league (outside of perhaps C.J. Spiller) will benefit more than Gore from a change in scenery.

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Frank Gore with something to prove to 49ers, Colts

Frank Gore is grateful to be with the Indianapolis Colts and after spending the past 10 seasons with San Francisco 49ers, he's eager to show both teams he continues to be one of the NFL's top running backs.

"When you still love the game, and you go to another team, you don't think about what you've done in the league," Gore said, via USA Today.  "You think about what you want to do for that team, for that team that wanted you. You want to make them feel like they were right and want to show the people in the other organization that you were with before that that they were wrong."

Gore, a five-time Pro Bowler with eight 1,000-yard seasons to his credit, signed a three-year, $12-million deal with Indianapolis in March. Gore is expected to be a key contributor on a team with Super Bowl aspirations and he's confident he still has more to offer.

"When you watch (last year's) film, and you see what I did when I did get opportunities, I did great things with it," Gore said. "I'm not knocking DeMarco Murray — I think he's a great back — but I feel like I was the probably the top guy on the market this last offseason.

"My challenge is that I want to show the league that I can still be Frank Gore — that's in every phase of the game, not just running."

To that end, Gore refuses to rest on past accomplishments. With the Colts offseason program now over, the team is off until the start of training camp in August. Gore said he plans to return home to Miami and will train with a group of young running backs, including Cincinnati's Giovanni Bernard, Cleveland's Duke Johnson and Rashad Jennings of the New York Giants.

"You keep yourself honest. If you train with young guys, at your position, second or third year — and if you're keeping up with them or beating them — you got a great shot to have a great year," Gore said.

"They help me, I'll help them. This is why I feel I'm still playing, because of the way I'm training."

Gore continues to push himself, and he can feel the difference being with a new team has made.

"I look at it like this: once you have success, everybody can get kind of cocky. I kind of felt that last year, starting the season when I was with the Niners, we were cocky," Gore said. "I don't feel that here, you know? They work."

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Frank Gore in store for monster season with Colts?

As one of a boatload of veterans to bolt from San Francisco this offseason, Frank Gore couldn't be happier with his new home in Indianapolis.

The five-time Pro Bowl running back spent a decade with the Niners seeing nothing but eight- and nine-man defensive fronts, an approach that opponents can't take against a stocked Colts offense led by the game's best young quarterback in Andrew Luck.

"With these weapons and Luck, I think it should be a light box," Gore told reporters Tuesday, per NFL Media's Jeff Darlington. "I've never seen a six-man front. Hopefully, this year it happens. And hopefully, I can take advantage of it."

If he can stay fresh during his age 32 campaign, Gore gives the Colts one of the NFL's hardest-charging runners and a player who finished ninth, 11th and fifth in yards after contact over the past three seasons. His arrival fills an immediate need in Indy, where Colts backs have produced just one 100-yard game during Luck's 48 starts.

Luck already sees the benefit of having Gore in the huddle. He gushed to Darlington about the runner's pristine pass-protection and knowledge of the playbook, and told that Gore has "picked up on a bunch of stuff that guys who have been here three years haven't picked up."

Before last season, tight end Coby Fleener defended Trent Richardson's underwhelming play in Indy, telling Around The NFL that T-Rich joined "an offense that's probably one of the most complex in the NFL," adding that "it took me a year and a half to learn the offense."

Gore won't have those issues. At 32, he's nearing the end of his stellar career, but we don't doubt his ability to operate as a backfield fireball for at least one more season.

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Andrew Luck Gushes About Frank Gore in Passing Game

Earlier in the team’s OTA’s, recently signed Indianapolis Colts running back Frank Gore only issued a glowing report about his new quarterback’s intelligence in Andrew Luck. However, it appears that professional admiration now goes both ways.

Today at Mini-Camp, Luck had nothing but high praise for his new starting running back in Gore. While many fans have been solely discussing Gore’s significance in upgrading the Colts ground game, it’s very easy to forget that he’s also a tremendous asset in the passing game, both in receiving and pass blocking, something his star quarterback has specifically taken notice of per the Indy Star’s Stephen Holder:

Earlier in the team’s OTA’s, recently signed Indianapolis Colts running back Frank Gore only issued a glowing report about his new quarterback’s intelligence in Andrew Luck. However, it appears that professional admiration now goes both ways.

Today at Mini-Camp, Luck had nothing but high praise for his new starting running back in Gore. While many fans have been solely discussing Gore’s significance in upgrading the Colts ground game, it’s very easy to forget that he’s also a tremendous asset in the passing game, both in receiving and pass blocking, something his star quarterback has specifically taken notice of per the Indy Star’s Stephen Holder:

Luck’s not the only one gushing about Gore however. When asked about his new running back, Chuck Pagano praised his professionalism today at Colts mini-camp:

“He’s a pro,” said Pagano. “He knows how to work, and he knows how to take care of his body, and that’s why he’s been able to do the things that he’s done to this point in his career. He doesn’t take time off. So, it’s year-round for Frank. He loves football and when the season’s over, it’s a nightmare for a guy like that. He’s just one of those guys.”

It sounds like his new coaches and teammates are glowing about Gore all around. So far, it’s been a very smooth transition for the longtime 49ers running back, and the Colts and Luck are clearly happy to now have him in their offense.

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Colts' signing of Frank Gore ranked one of best veteran acquisitions this offseason

Every move made this offseason by NFL teams is in an effort to get better and to try to reach the playoffs, then getting a chance to compete for a Super Bowl berth.
Some teams have had better offseasons than others in trying to improve, and some moves have been better than others as well.

FOX Sports' Alex Marvez recently compiled a list of the top ten veteran free agent acquisitions of the offseason, and the Indianapolis Colts' signing of running back Frank Gore came in at number nine.

"After striking out on 2012 first-round pick Trent Richardson, the Colts went the free-agent route to snare Gore away from San Francisco and Philadelphia after the 49ers' all-time leading rusher was poised to sign with the Eagles."

Many people have criticized the Colts this offseason for signing older players, as they signed a 32-year old running back in Gore, a soon-to-be 34-year old wide receiver in Andre Johnson, and a 32-year old pass rusher in Trent Cole, and without a doubt the Colts added veteran players this offseason who are nearing the end of their careers.  But that doesn't mean that they were bad moves, and particularly in the case of Gore, it was a much-needed move.

Gore has been the model of consistency at the running back position for the past decade.  In ten seasons with the 49ers, Gore topped 1,000 yards rushing eight times, including in eight of the last nine seasons and in each of the past four.  Furthermore, he hasn't missed a single game in over four years, an incredibly impressive streak for a running back.

After the Trent Richardson debacle, the Colts simply need a consistent player in the backfield.  They haven't had a 1,000 yard rusher since 2007 and have struggled to find any semblance of consistency from the rushing game in the Andrew Luck era.  That's where Frank Gore comes in, and he brings a proven running back who should still be productive in 2015, adding a whole new element to the Colts offensive attack.  They have a tremendous passing offense led by Andrew Luck, and the hope now is that Gore can play well enough to make the team a threat on the ground as well, something that would in turn open things up more for Luck and the pass game.  Because of that, the addition of Gore was a huge one for Indy and, according to FOX Sports' Alex Marvez, one of the biggest of the offseason for any team.

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Frank Gore, NFL's Most Durable Back?

Dave Dameshek at rates the best sets of offensive trios -- or 'triplets' -- in the league. The Colts' version of Andrew Luck, Frank Gore and T.Y. Hilton comes in at No. 4.

It's crazy to think Gore is pro football's most durable success story when knee injuries kept the prodigy off the field more often than not during his days at the U. Even at the decrepit age of 32, 1,100 yards and a half-dozen TDs seem like a sure bet for his first run in Indy, as he provides the theoretical balance the pass-first (and -second and -third) Colts offense has sought. Don't worry, though, fantasy fans: Luck will continue to fulfill your dreams ... and Hilton's, too.

Accompanying that list is the 'sweetest Triplets' of the Super Bowl era. The Colts' Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison and Edgerrin James come in at No. 10, three spots behind a more recent Manning group with the Denver Broncos (Knowshon Moreno and Demaryius Thomas).

• Alex Marvez at Fox Sports considers the Indianapolis Colts' signing of Gore one of the NFL's 10 critical offseason acquisitions.
After striking out on 2012 first-round pick Trent Richardson, the Colts went the free-agent route to snare Gore from San Francisco and Philadelphia after the 49ers' all-time leading rusher was poised to sign with the Eagles.

• Robert Mays at Grantland ponders which NFL players could best duplicate the efforts of Stephen Curry in the NBA -- that is, going from a perennial All-Star to MVP caliber in one season. Is it Luck's turn?

Rewarding the new guy is always appealing, and this really does feel like the culmination of what we've been waiting for with Luck for the past three years. The Colts went big this offseason, and with the offseason arrivals of Andre Johnson, Frank Gore, and Phillip Dorsett, the armory Luck has at his disposal is getting ridiculous. It doesn't take much imagination to envision him scratching the 5,000-yard mark while sniffing 50 touchdowns as Indy wins 12 games. We want the phenom to match our impossible expectations, and plenty of signs point to this being the season in which Luck does that and maybe even more.

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Frank Gore: 'I simply want to win'

Frank Gore needed a new home. The Indianapolis Colts needed a running back.

It seemed like the right match for both parties, so the veteran running back called fellow South Florida native T.Y. Hilton and asked him to put in a good word with Colts' management. Gore laid out the thought process that brought him to Indianapolis in an interview with ESPN's Mike Wells.

“I called T.Y. and said, ‘Tell them I’m interested,’ without even knowing if they were interested in me," Gore said, via Wells. “I figured out they weren’t happy with Trent (Richardson) during the season. I had watched from a distance as they continued to get better every year and they had one of the best quarterbacks in the league in Andrew (Luck), but I didn't know a whole lot about the organization."

Hilton was happy to relay the message. He wasn't surprised the veteran running back wanted to play with Luck.

“Everybody wants to play with Andrew,” Hilton told Wells. “He's a free-agent magnet. I told (Gore) we need a good, solid running back. We got Boom (Herron). He does great things for us, but we need that back that’s like Frank. We’re a power scheme offense, and his style fits that perfectly. I told him he would really help us. I really didn’t have to sell anything on him.”

Gore initially agreed to sign with the Philadelphia Eagles at the beginning of free agency in March, but had a change of heart and backed out. 

“It’s a business,” Gore said. “I wanted to be here. I’ve been with (offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton) and it’s a similar offense. It couldn’t be any better.”

On paper, at least, it seems like a perfect mix of need and opportunity for both the player and the team. The five-time Pro Bowler has run for more than 1,000 yards in eight of his last nine seasons. The Colts haven't had a 1,000 yard rusher since 2007. Gore, 32, is excited by the possibilities the Indianapolis offense will present. It's why he's there.

"I feel like every game can be different,” Gore said. “Some games if we have to throw 50-60 times to win, I’m with it. Sometimes we might have to pound it out. I simply want to win. That's the reason I came here. Just to win."

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The Colts needed Frank Gore as much as he needed them

INDIANAPOLIS -- Nothing had to be said to Frank Gore. He knew what was happening despite what was being said publicly. The then-San Francisco 49ers running back was experiencing the phase-out with his own eyes.

The plays, the same ones he took the handoffs on for most of his 10 years with the organization, were being run with him on the sideline last season.

“I wasn’t touching the rock like I used to,” Gore said. “Some plays would be my plays and they’d take me off still. I just think they wanted to go in a different direction. It was tough. You never want to leave somewhere you were comfortable at.”

And as the phase-out continued, Gore’s eyes and his mind started drifting elsewhere. They started wandering some 2,300 miles to the east in Indianapolis. Gore knew he wanted to continue his career, but it had to be the right situation.

The Indianapolis Colts and Gore needed each other.

The Colts' Trent Richardson experiment at running back became more and more embarrassing for the franchise each week as he failed to average 4.0 yards a carry. The Colts couldn't continue down that path in the backfield. They needed a running game to complement franchise quarterback Andrew Luck's arm.

Gore picked up the phone after the season and dialed the number of a player he knows well.

He called Indianapolis receiver T.Y. Hilton. Both are from South Florida, and Gore’s cousin and Hilton were teammates at Florida International University.

“I called T.Y. and said, ‘Tell them I’m interested,’ without even knowing if they were interested in me," Gore recalled saying. “I figured out they weren’t happy with Trent during the season. I had watched from a distance as they continued to get better every year and they had one of the best quarterbacks in the league in Andrew, but I didn't know a whole lot about the organization."

Hilton didn’t need a used-car salesman pitch to sell Gore on the Colts. Luck was the loaded Porsche that needed some more pieces to make things run even smoother.

The Colts, despite reaching the AFC Championship Game last season, have had only one player rush for at least 100 yards in a game in Luck’s 48 regular-season games. They haven’t had a 1,000-yard rusher in a season since 2007.

“Everybody wants to play with Andrew,” Hilton said. “He's a free-agent magnet. I told [Gore] we need a good, solid running back. We got Boom [Herron]. He does great things for us, but we need that back that’s like Frank. We’re a power scheme offense, and his style fits that perfectly. I told him he would really help us. I really didn’t have to sell anything on him.”

Gore had verbally agreed to sign with the Philadelphia Eagles at the start of free agency March 10, but his mind was still in Indianapolis, not with Chip Kelly and the Eagles’ offense. Gore, despite knowing the potential backlash, told his agent to continue talking to the Colts to try to work out a deal with Indianapolis.

“It’s a business,” Gore said. “I wanted to be here. I’ve been with [offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton] and it’s a similar offense. It couldn’t be any better.”

Not only was a reduced role tough for Gore to deal with last season, so was not making the playoffs after three straight years of reaching at least the NFC Championship Game with the 49ers.

There were recruiting efforts by other players Gore knows around the league, but despite their efforts and the money being thrown his way, it came down to three things: the chance to play with Luck, wanting to play for an organization that had Super Bowl potential and Gore’s relationship with Hamilton. Hamilton was on San Francisco’s staff in 2006 when Gore rushed for a career-high 1,695 yards.

“I know by watching them in the past and the guys they have in the locker room and being here with the coaching staff, everybody healthy and on the same page we have a shot,” Gore said. “It's all about taking care of all the small things. They take care of the little things. When you take care of little things, that shows how serious you are.”

Gore, leaning back in his chair and his foot propped up on his locker, finds himself at times thinking ahead to next season. He has spent the majority of his career facing defenses that loaded the box with eight or nine defenders.

That won’t be possible because of Luck -- who Gore called one of the smartest players he has ever met -- and the weapons he has at receiver and tight end. The Colts managed to get by without much of a running game to finish third in the NFL in total yards last season. Now with Gore in the mix they should be even better.

“I think it’s a very exciting matchup for those guys,” Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said during the NFL owners meetings in March. “You add the receiver [Andre Johnson], too. It has to be really exciting ... with those two new elements to add with the quarterback on a really good team already. [Gore] has tremendous style. You feel his intensity when he plays. Again, he can come through in the clutch and make things happen when you need him. He’s tough to play against, and anybody who has him on his team has to be excited about it.”

Statistics suggest Gore, who signed a three-year, $12 million contract with the Colts, should see a decrease in his production this season. He just turned 32, and Ricky Williams is the last running back to rush for at least 1,000 yards at that age or older. Williams rushed for 1,121 yards with the Miami Dolphins in 2009.

The difference between being in San Francisco and Indianapolis for Gore, though, is that he doesn’t have to touch the ball 15 times a game for the Colts to win. He simply needs to take some of the load off Luck’s shoulders by forcing the defense to respect the run game.

“I feel like every game can be different,” Gore said. “Some games if we have to throw 50-60 times to win, I’m with it. Sometimes we might have to pound it out. I simply want to win. That's the reason I came here. Just to win."

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Frank Gore, Andre Johnson have made smooth transition to Indy

INDIANAPOLIS -- There wasn’t expected to be any significant rough stretches for newcomers Andre Johnson and Frank Gore as they transitioned to Indianapolis after spending their entire careers in Houston and San Francisco, respectively.

"Relatively smooth" is probably a better way to describe the transition for the two veterans. So smooth, in fact, that Chuck Pagano went as far as to say it’s like the two have been part of the organization for years.

“Pretty seamless,” the Colts coach said. “They don’t miss a beat as far as the playbook goes, knowing what to do. Every time I see them in the huddle, break a huddle, to me it looks like they’re going the right direction. They’re lining up right. They’re very talented, talented guys. They fit right into the locker room. They’re professionals. Again, the résumé speaks for itself. They’re not talkers. They’re workers, they’re doers.”

Gore's and Johnson's transitions are the most important of the new additions the Colts made in the offseason because of the roles they're expected to play next season. The Colts hope Gore will take some of the pressure off of quarterback Andrew Luck by being the team's first 1,000-yard rusher since 2007 when Joseph Addai did it. Luck, who watched Gore pound defenses with the 49ers while he was at Stanford, noted that the running back has underrated blocking skills.

While the Texans wanted to reduce Johnson’s role in their offense, it was pretty obvious during Wednesday’s OTA session that the veteran will have a significant part in Indianapolis’ offense as he took his snaps with the starters.

“There is a learning adjustment and we’ll continue to learn,” Luck said. “I’d like to think you get better and build that repertoire every week through the offseason, training camp and during the season. But they understand football, you can tell that. They know how to play and certain things they know how to do and certain things that coaches are asking them might be a little different. They work at it just like everybody else. But it’s been very good and it’s incredibly valuable to get these days with them.”

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Frank Gore, Colts An Ideal Marriage

INDIANAPOLIS – Frank Gore was hiding.

Speaking barely above a whisper on Wednesday, Gore was inside the media-shaped horseshoe laying out how his early days as a Colt were going.

His disguise wasn’t intended, but the 5-9 Gore would love to be incognito from opposing defenses later on this year.

Gore was an eager study when the Colts kicked off their offseason program on Monday morning.

After 10 seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, Gore is entering a spring like no other in his NFL tenure.

“I want to grow with my teammates, grow with my coaches, get the playbook down pact so when I come back from camp I can just get going and rolling, go out there and just work,” Gore said of his initial mindset with the Colts.

The 31-year-old-Gore arrives in Indy with a resume that dwarfs that of any other recent Colts running back.

As the tread on Gore’s tires grows, he continues to produce.

Gore enters 2015 on the heels of four straight seasons of at least 1,100 rushing yards. In playing 64 straight games, Gore’s consistent availability is something the Colts have struggled to maintain in the backfield.

That’s why, when Gore hit the open market earlier this year, the rumors of him to Indianapolis seemed ideal.

A team in need for a durable ball carrier could find that description in a veteran itching to join an organization built for postseason success.

One of the Colts greatest selling points to Gore, and frankly every free agent this offseason, was the man handing him the ball in 2015.

Gore has enjoyed listening to Luck’s direction this week.

“Just being out there throwing balls, he’s doing the small drills that a quarterback does,” Gore said of his new quarterback.

“He’s running the show. When we’re out there throwing the ball, he’s telling us what to do. That’s what I’m surprised about, I’m happy to see as a quarterback.”

Luck’s fondness for Gore extends back to the quarterback’s days at Stanford.

Sunday’s in college were days of relaxation for Luck and that meant football was on the tube.

Bay Area residents had an up close look at Gore each week, and Luck certainly admired how the then 49ers running back played the game of football.

“You talk about a tough guy, a tough runner, a tough blocker and a guy you can tell that does things for his teammates and is a team-first guy,” Luck said of Gore.

“Incredibly excited to have him here.”

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Frank Gore talks UM tradition, Duke Johnson

The sight of former Hurricanes greats on Miami’s campus has become somewhat routine. And plenty of them were there again Wednesday for Miami's Pro Day.

But even by UM’s standards, Wednesday’s parade of former Miami standouts was noticeable, especially for fans of running backs.

As Duke Johnson, the Hurricanes’ all-time leading rusher worked out for the 32 NFL teams that attended Pro Day on the Greentree Practice Field, he did so under the watchful eyes of Edgerrin James, Clinton Portis and Frank Gore, three of the players he passed in the UM record book.

After his workout, Johnson said that having the opportunity to show off his skills in front of players like those is part of what drove him, not just Wednesday but throughout his UM career.

“It’s a great feeling, especially when you have the alumni, as many that came out as possible to support us,” Johnson said. “I think it pushes us a lot. We see them every now and then when they come in to work out, but actually having them come out here and support us when they don’t have to, it shows that they really care about us.”

And Gore, who signed with Indianapolis last month after a lengthy career in San Francisco that saw him become the 49ers all-time leading rusher, said there’s one big reason former players were in Coral Gables on Wednesday.

“Family,” Gore said. “This is the tradition we have here. I try to come down during my bye week, sometimes during the summer. … this is great to see some of the guys I haven’t seen in a while.”

Gore then praised Johnson’s effort, saying he thinks the former Miami Norland star can be the next great Miami running back in the NFL.

“He’s a tough guy. Very explosive. I like how he plays the game,” Gore said of Johnson. “He plays the game and you can tell he loves the game. Plus, he’s from Miami, man. That’s what we do.”

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Meet Andre Johnson and Frank Gore 2015 Colts Offensive Free Agents

INDIANAPOLIS – The major offensive splash of the Colts 2015 free agency came from a pair of weapons, who have a long history together.

Frank Gore and Andre Johnson are the headliners of the Colts haul this offseason with free agency quieting down after two weeks of players on the open market. takes a look back on the 2015 additions on offense:

Running Back Frank Gore (49ers)
-2014 Stats: 16 games played (16 starts). 255 rushes for 1,106 yards and four touchdowns.
-Career Stats: 148 career games played (134 starts) in 10 seasons. 2,442 rushing attempts for 11,073 yards and 64 touchdowns.
-Gore’s Quote to Note: “I feel like before I leave this game, I want to win a championship. This is the best team, the best situation for me to get there.”
-Ryan Grigson’s Thoughts: “I was always taught never overlook production, even if the measurables aren’t there, just don’t overlook rare production and consistency. He’s been the model of that and the fact that he can do it on all three downs at a high-level, that’s worth its weight in gold, especially for this offense.”

-Outlook: Running back was a definite need of the Colts this offseason and they were able to lure the most productive back there was on the open market. Gore’s age will be questioned for the rest of his career, but his numbers indicate he’s a different breed than other ball carries with 10 years of tread. He ended 2014 with back-to-back games of at least 140 rushing yards. The Colts aren’t going to ask Gore to carry a heavy burden in the backfield. Chuck Pagano knows that having a healthy Gore each Sunday is the most important factor in tapering back his practice regime. Another reinforcement to the backfield could happen in the draft, where numerous quality backs are this year.

Wide Receiver Andre Johnson (Texans)
-2014 Stats: 15 games played (15 starts). 85 catches for 936 yards and three touchdowns.
-Career Stats: 169 games played (169 starts) in 12 seasons. 1,102 receptions for 13,597 yards and 64 touchdowns.
-Johnson’s Quote to Note: “I wanted to be at a place that had a stable quarterback. I feel like Andrew is arguably the best quarterback in the game playing against him twice a year, getting a chance to watch him a lot. I felt like this was a good place where I could win a championship.”

-Chuck Pagano’s Thoughts: “You still see a guy who is more than capable of stretching the defense. Certainly somebody who our opponent can’t just line up and say, ‘Don’t worry about Andre Johnson.’ They’re still going to have to tend to him. If they choose to double (T.Y. Hilton) and take him out of the game, you have another guy on the other side, along with the rest of the guys on the roster who can still stretch the defense. He’s a big, possession type guy. He makes contested catches in traffic. He’s got a big catch radius.”

-Outlook: A veteran, big bodied, piece was the ideal hope to fill the Colts pass catching void this offseason. That’s what they are getting in Johnson. Just like Gore, the age question for Johnson will be one to answer throughout his time in Indianapolis. The belief by some in Houston was that Johnson has lost a step. What he hasn’t lost though his the frame (6-3 and 220 pounds), which allowed him to put up Hall of Fame numbers with the Texans. The Colts skill group will welcome that frame to an already explosive playmaking core. Despite reaching his 30s, Johnson’s numbers have barley diminished while catching balls from six different quarterbacks the last two seasons. With Andrew Luck looking his direction, and the extra attention inevitably coming towards T.Y. Hilton, Johnson should have his fair share of chances to be an impact guy for one of the league’s best offenses.

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NFC West coaches: Frank Gore will be productive for Colts

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts have been looking to team quarterback Andrew Luck with a running back who would help ease some of his workload for nearly three years now.

Vick Ballard hasn’t been able to stay healthy since rushing for 814 yards his rookie season in 2012. Ahmad Bradshaw was effective, but like Ballard, he couldn’t stay healthy. And Trent Richardson? Everybody knows that was a disaster and that chapter has closed.

Now it’s Frank Gore's turn to try to fill that role for the Colts.

And while some question whether Gore can still produce at the age 31, the common theme at the NFL owners meetings was that the Colts signed a player who will produce.

“I think there are some freaks of nature out there and he’s one of them because his skill level hasn’t diminished at all and I think he’ll be a good fit,” Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. “You don’t like playing safety against Frank because one of you is getting knocked out and it’s usually the safety.”

Despite losing Gore to the Colts, you could hear the passion and respect for Gore in San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Tomsula’s voice.

“It’s Frankie G, man,” Tomsula said. “You watch the film, I just love the guy and I have a tremendous amount of respect for Frank and there are enough people on [the Colts staff] who know who Frank is. You see Frank the player, but Frank the guy, he’s going to mean a lot to the team.

Gore’s production during his 10-year career can’t be questioned. He’s rushed for over 1,00 yards in eight of those 10 seasons. He's also a durable player, having only missed 12 games in his career.

To put into perspective what Gore could mean to the Colts, Indianapolis hasn’t had a 1,000-yard rusher since 2007 when Joseph Addai ran for 1,072 yards. The Colts have only had one player (Ballard) rush for 100 yards in a game in Luck’s 48 career regular-season games.

“I think it’s a very exciting matchup for those guys,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “You add the receiver (Andre Johnson), too. It has to be really exciting. I talked to Coach [Pagano] about that. Has to be exciting going into this offseason with those two new elements to add with the quarterback on a really good team already. [Gore] has tremendous style. You feel his intensity when he plays. Again, he can come through in the clutch and make things happen when you need him. He’s tough to play against and anybody who has him on his team has to be excited about it.”

Pagano has described Gore as an every-down running back. With that said, the coach doesn’t plan to overwork Gore in practice during the week because they want to conserve him for game day.

Gore will be 32 years old when the 2015 season starts. Ricky Williams is the last running back to rush for at least 1,000 yards at 32 years old or older. He rushed for 1,121 yards while with the Miami Dolphins in 2009.

Gore doesn’t need to rush for 1,695 yards like he did in 2006, but he needs to be productive, which many say he will be, once he lines up in the backfield for the Colts.

“You’ve got to be able to run the football,” Pagano said. “We talk about protect the quarterback, protect the quarterback, protect the quarterback. Well, one way is to have success on the ground and be able to hand it off, where he’s not in harm’s way standing back there having to throw it 50 times a game because you get behind and can’t run the football. I think it’s huge.”

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Frank Gore, in statement, thanks 49ers, fans

Frank Gore had been a member of the 49ers since the team drafted him in the third round in 2005. The team cut ties with the 31-year-old running back this offseason, but that didn't erase the memories he made during his time in San Francisco.

Gore, now a member of the Colts after signing as a free agent, expressed his thanks to those who supported him throughout his decade in San Francisco. He released a statement Monday, via CSN Bay Area.

As I look forward to an exciting new opportunity, I cannot help but to reminisce about the past 10 years in the Bay Area. I would like to, once again, thank the York family and the 49ers organization for giving me the opportunity to realize my childhood dream of playing in the NFL. I am truly thankful to all of my 49ers teammates, coaches and staff that have helped me reach milestones and strive for greatness over the years. And to my fans: I do not know where to start, there are no words to describe how appreciative I am of the support and encouragement each and every one of you has provided. I will always carry you with me. Thank you for everything.

Gore is expected to be the Colts' feature back in 2015. He rushed for 1,106 yards and four touchdowns while playing in all 16 games last season. He is 20th all time with 11,073 career rushing yards.

Trent Richardson was Indy's leading rusher last year with 519 yards. He was released in the offseason. Richardson filed a grievance over the move.

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Colts View Frank Gore As Their "Work-Horse Back"

ARIZONA - While Indianapolis Colts' head coach Chuck Pagano was in Arizona at the annual owner's meeting, he spoke to the media about some of the team's new free agent acquisitions. One of the consistent subjects of the questions was Frank Gore. Rightfully so, the team has struggled for many years running the football. Frank Gore seems to be the best running back that the team has had in what feels like a decade. Not only that, he fits exactly what Offensive Coordinator Pep Hamilton wants to run on offense.

Here is what Chuck Pagano said about Frank Gore taking the primary back role:

"Some guys are like that. Carry 1-20, they’re OK. And 20-30, they keep getting better as you wear defenses down. And I think Frank is that type of runner. He’s a tough, hard-nosed, every-down back. He can play all three downs. He’s a great protector in pass pro. He catches the ball out of the backfield. We all know what he can do as a runner on early downs. He loves football."

I agree with everything that Chuck Pagano said. He is a very physical runner out of the backfield, is a good receiving back, great pass blocker, and gives it his all every down. His versatile skill set will allow for the Colts to use him in basically any situation that he is not fatigued. With these comments, it seems that the Colts won't be making running back a priority in the NFL Draft this year. That's expected, they have their answer at running back for the next two seasons. Besides, there are larger needs than the running back position, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

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Frank Gore: 'I wanted to be with a great QB'

Frank Gore sent a shockwave through the Eagles complex last week when he left Philadelphia at the altar for the Indianapolis Colts.

The former 49ers running back acknowledged that he was minutes away from joining Chip Kelly's squad before making one last request of his agent.

"I told (him) to talk back with the Colts and see if they would match the deal or make it better," Gore told ESPN's Josina Anderson, per the team's official website. "And they did. That's where I wanted to be so that's why I made the decision."

On the latest podcast, we listed the Colts as one of the teams that strengthened their roster because of the additions on offense. Veteran wideout Andre Johnson finished last season with a flourish and still has plenty left in the tank. Gore gives the Colts a proven hammer on the ground and a runner who fits well into play-caller Pep Hamilton's scheme.

Gore would have been sensational in Kelly's run-happy attack, but, in the end, the Colts had something the Eagles couldn't offer:

"When I knew I wasn't going back to the 49ers, my first option was I wanted to be with a great quarterback," Gore said. "I feel that you have to have a great quarterback to have a chance. Luck is a young quarterback and he does everything. He can throw. He can run. He's physical. He's a leader."

The Colts threw plenty of coin at a pair of aging stars on offense, but we don't frown on that from a team that came within one game of Super Bowl XLIX. Gore hopes to help tip the scales in the AFC come September.

"I don't know how many years I've got left, two, three," Gore said. "But I want to have the opportunities to get back and chase that trophy I really want before I leave."


What Numbers Will Frank Gore And Andre Johnson Wear In 2015?

Frank Gore will be wearing No. 23 in Indianapolis, the opposite number of another great Miami running back for the Colts (Edgerrin James). Johnson has gone with No. 81 as he begins a “new chapter” in his life. 

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Frank Gore says signing with Colts was his first choice all along

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Will Frank Gore's number be retired?

Whether you like it or not, Frank Gore is gone and he’s not coming back.

Instead of the red and gold the 49ers’ all-time leading rusher wore for the first decade of his storied career, he will be donning blue and white probably for the rest of his career.

And he also will most likely be wearing a different number, too.

Currently, Vontae Davis (who happens the be the younger brother of 49ers tight end Vernon Davis) wears the number 21 for the Colts — that’s been Gore’s number since he entered the pro ranks. According to reports, Davis rebuffed Gore’s attempt to get his number form him.

But, if Gore can’t have number 21, maybe no one should — at least, on the 49ers.

Gore is one of just two active running backs (free-agent Steven Jackson is the other) currently in the NFL’s top 20 list of all-time rushers. Gore sits at 20th currently, but a 1,000 yard season  — which is very doable for the durable Gore — would put him at number 16.

Let’s say he balls out this season and carries the rock for 1,200 yards, then he’ll be in 10th place all time. Either way, the man will be in the top 10 at the end of his career.

So, the questions is, should the 49ers retire Gore’s number 21? Steve Young’s jersey number 8 was de facto retired, though not officially, and he won Super Bowl rings.

Only time will tell, but certainly, Gore stands a chance.

These are the numbers that are either officially retired or de facto retired:
8 — QB Steve Young
12 — QB John Brodie
16 — QB Joe Montana
34 — RB Joe Perry
37 — DB Jimmy Johnson
39 — RB Hugh McElhenney
42 — S Ronnie Lott
70 — DT Charlie Krueger
73 — T Leo Nomellini
79 — T Bob St. Clair
80 — WR Jerry Rice
87 — WR Dwight Clark

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proCane Free Agent Signing Roundup

A lot has happened in the last 48 hours in the NFL as far as Free Agent signings and our proCanes have been at the center of it all with several proCane stars joining new teams. See a recap of all the action below:

Former 49ers RB Frank Gore signed a 3-year $12 million contract with the Indianapolis Colts.

Former Texans WR Andre Johnson signed a 3-year $21 million contract with the Indianapolis Colts.

TE Jimmy Graham was traded from the New Orleans Saints to Seattle Seahawks.

Former Giants S Antrel Rolle signed a 3-year $11.25 million contract with the Chicago Bears.

Former Redskins WR Leonard Hankerson signed a 1-year $1 million contract with the Atlanta Falcons.

OT Eric Winston re-signed with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Former Broncos OL Orlando Franklin signed a 5-year $36 million contract with the San Diego Chargers.

OT Jason Fox re-signed with the Miami Dolphins.

MLB Jon Beason re-signed with the NY Giants.

Notable proCane Free Agents still available: Chris Myers, Brandon Meriweather, Santana Moss, Colin McCarthy, Reggie Wayne, Vince Wilfork, DJ Williams, Darryl Sharpton.

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Andre Johnson: Frank Gore and I agree, we can win a Super Bowl

New Colts receiver Andre Johnson says he and fellow new Colt Frank Gore agreed to sign with Indianapolis together because they want to win a Super Bowl together.

Johnson said that as soon as the Texans cut him, Gore (a University of Miami teammate) was on the phone, trying to convince him that they should sign with the same team and try to get a ring.

“After I got released by the Texans, Frank called me,” Johnson said. “He called me right after it happened and was just like, ‘What are you gonna do?’ I’m like, ‘Frank, I don’t know. I just got released. I don’t know.’ I asked, him ‘Who do you think has the best chance to win a Super Bowl?’ And he was like, ‘Indy.’ And I was like, ‘That’s my same choice too so let’s do it, let’s go for it.’ And they were able to get both of us here.”

Johnson said he’s looking forward to playing with Andrew Luck (by far the best quarterback he’s ever played with) and thinks the Colts have what it takes to win the Super Bowl in 11 months.

“Me and Frank are here to try to help this organization get over the hump and get a ring,” Johnson said.

That would be quite a way to wrap up a great career.

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Frank Gore Thanks 49ers Organization and Fans

Frank Gore will play for the Indianapolis Colts for the next three seasons, but before he starts his new journey, the departing running back went to Instagram to share a thoughtful message.

Gore shared his thanks for being a part of the San Francisco 49ers organization. He also thanked his fans.

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Frank Gore, Indianapolis Colts agree to three-year, $12M deal

Frank Gore will be playing his first season of football since 2005 in a uniform other than one that has San Francisco 49ers colors on it. Gore has played for two teams his entire career, as the Miami Hurricanes and San Francisco 49ers were the only teams to have had the pleasure of using Gore in their lineup.

We can now add the Indianapolis Colts t that list.

According to Adam Schefter from ESPN, the Colts and Frank Gore have agreed to a deal that will pay the former 49ers running back $8.5 million in guaranteed money.

This was expected to happen as soon as Gore backed out of plans to sign with the Philadelphia Eagles. Gore was intrigued by the idea of playing with Andrew Luck and there’s a chance that Andre Johnson will be joining him shortly to form a Miami Hurricanes reunion.

Andrew Luck never played in Coral Gables and he hasn’t played with Johnson or Gore but their arrivals in Indy are great news for his 2015 stats. The Colts have progressively gotten closer to the Super Bowl in each of Luck’s first three years and the addition of Gore is a clear sign that a trip to Super Bowl 50 is in the plans for the Colts.

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Frank Gore’s glorious run ends with 49ers, signs with Colts for $8.5 million guaranteed

What Gore accomplished in his No. 21 jersey was simply unforeseen 10 years ago, when the 49ers used a third-round draft pick (65th overall) on a University of Miami running back whose knees each had overcome torn anterior cruciate ligaments.

Gore’s 11,073 rushing yards are the most ever by a 49er and 20th among the NFL’s all-time greats.

But statistics never truly defined Gore’s impact on the 49ers — or what he’ll bring to the Indianapolis Colts, who signed him Tuesday in his first-ever foray into free agency. Gore received $8.5 million guaranteed, ESPN reported.

Packed inside his 5-foot-9 frame is a passion for the sport, love of the game and PhD-level knowledge. That was never more on display than a 2007 trip to St. Louis, where he ran for 81 yards and two touchdowns in a Week 2 win. Earlier that week, his mother, Liz, died from kidney disease. She was 46.

Gore, who turns 32 on May 14, has been the mainstay of the 49ers offense and soul of the team since 2006.

As Gore heads to a new team, so continues his quest for a new end to a season, one with a Super Bowl championship. “That’s why we’re here, why we do this, why we play NFL ball, why you play team sports – to be a champion,” Gore said in December. “I want to be a champion.”

The 49ers did not produce a winning record or playoff berth in his first six seasons, going 37-59. Since 2011, the 49ers have gone 35-19-1 in regular-season action, with trips to the three straight NFC Championship games and a Super Bowl before this season’s sour, 8-8 finish.

Gore’s departure is not unexpected, nor was Jerry Rice’s when the 49ers’ greatest receiver was shown the door in 2001, when bitter feelings also were masked by talk of a business-oriented divorce.

The 49ers repeatedly said over the past couple months they wanted Gore to return, and he verbally reciprocated that desire, at least until he got his first-ever taste of free agency.

Gore’s legacy casts an enormous shadow for his immediate successor, which figures to be Carlos Hyde, who ran for 333 yards and four touchdowns as a second-round draft pick last year out of Ohio State.

“He’s still one of those rare backs that can find the smallest hole to get through,” wide receiver Anquan Boldin said last summer. “Out of all the guys I’ve played with, he’s that guy, running between the tackles. I haven’t seen anybody like him.”

For a franchise that’s produced Hall of Fame rushers in Hugh McElhenny and Joe Perry (and perhaps someday Roger Craig), Gore ran for more than any of them. His name also tops the 49ers’ rushing charts for carries (2,442), touchdowns (64), 100-yard games (39) and 1,000-yard seasons (eight).

Arguably no running back in NFL history blocked as well in pass protection as consistently and for so long. That will be overlooked by many but should not be, especially when the time comes for his Pro Football Hall of Fame candidacy.

Gore was instrumental in clinching his lone Super Bowl trip, rushing for a pair of second-half touchdowns in the NFC Championship win at Atlanta two years ago. He also nearly ran for a potential winning touchdown in the Super Bowl, racing 33 yards to the 7-yard line with 2:39 remaining; he never touched the ball again in the failed comeback attempt.

Once the 49ers got eliminated from playoff contention last December, Gore responded with his most prolific stretch of back-to-back games since that 2006, breakout season. He ran for 158 yards in a Dec. 20 collapse to the San Diego Chargers and then 144 yards in the season-closing win over the Arizona Cardinals.

“I know I can play. You put the tape on and you’ll see,” Gore said prior to that finale. “You can’t judge a guy on how the team plays. You’ve got to watch the tape and see what goes on out there. You go watch the tape and you’ll see I can still play football.”

Each of the past four seasons, Gore has played in every game, starting all but an Oct. 2, 2011 win at Philadelphia, where he came off the bench and rushed for 127 yards and a touchdown to help spark the 49ers’ revival under then-coach Jim Harbaugh.

Gore missed only seven games his 5 ½ seasons (because of groin and ankle injuries) until his 2010 season was halted Nov. 29 with a fractured hip.

Such durability, production and overall leadership resulted in praise and requisite awards. Coaches awarded him the Bill Walsh Award as team MVP in 2006 and 2010, and teammates last season bestowed upon him his first Len Eshmont Award, the 49ers’ most prestigious honor as it represents inspiration and courage.

Gore’s popularity stretched from teammates to fans and the media. Last season, he became the only three-time winner of the Garry Niver Award, given by beat writers to the most professional and cooperative player. Winning that honor last year was quite a feat considering how much he stewed with anger – but didn’t detrimentally vent — over the 49ers’ perilous path out of playoff contention.

“He’s a huge asset. I’m hoping he’s back here,” quarterback Colin Kaepernick said before the season finale. “I feel a lot more comfortable with (No.) 21 in the backfield.”

General manager Trent Baalke acknowledged in December he told Gore he wanted an 11th season out of him. “We can both want each other’s company,” Baalke said then, “but to make that happen, there are hurdles that are going to have to be crossed.”

Gore’s take at the time:  “If they want to bring me back, they will. They’ll come to me in a respectful way. We’ll sit down, see what they want me to do. See what my role is and if I like it, I’ll sign. If I don’t, I’ll try to see what other teams think of me.”

* * *

Here is how Frank Gore ranks in the 49ers record book:
Frank Gore (2005-14)…..11,073
Joe Perry (1950-60, 63)…..7,344
Roger Craig (1983-90)…..7,064
Ken Willard (1965-73)….. 5,930
Garrison Hearst (1997-03)…..5,535

Frank Gore…..2,442
Roger Craig…..1,686
Ken Willard…..1,582
Joe Perry…..1,475
Garrison Hearst…..1,189

Frank Gore…..64
Roger Craig…..50
Joe Perry…..50
Ken Willard…..45
Steve Young…..37
J.D. Smith…..37

Frank Gore…..38
Joe Perry…..20
Garrison Hearst…..16

Jerry Rice             187
Terrell Owens    83
Frank Gore         76
Roger Craig         66
Ken Willard         61

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Frank Gore reportedly reconsidering decision to sign with Eagles

Niners running back Frank Gore has never been a pending free agent … and his inexperience appears to be showing.

After Gore decided to sign with the Eagles when free agency begins Tuesday, he’s since had a change of heart and is strongly considering signing with the Colts, according to multiple reports. Gore, 31, evidently isn’t mulling a return to the 49ers, with whom he’s spent his entire 10-year career.

Gore could be enticed by the prospect of playing with his first Pro Bowl quarterback - Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck - and reuniting with associate head coach Rob Chudzinski, his offensive coordinator for his first three seasons at the University of Miami. Last year, the Colts finished 11-5 and reached the AFC Championship Game, while Eagles went 10-6 and missed the playoffs.

In addition, the running-back needy Colts are likely offering a competitive contract. Gore reportedly received an offer from the Eagles that included $7.5 million guaranteed in the first two seasons.

Last year, the Colts ranked first in the NFL in passing yards, but finished 22nd in rushing and yards per attempt.

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49ers' Frank Gore headed to Eagles

SAN FRANCISCO —Two people familiar with the moves say five-time Pro Bowl running back Frank Gore and cornerback Byron Maxwell have agreed to contracts with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Both sources spoke on condition of anonymity Sunday because the deals weren't finalized and can't be announced until the NFL's new season begins on Tuesday at 4 p.m. EDT.

Free agents were allowed to start negotiating with teams on Saturday.

Gore leaves the San Francisco 49ers as the franchise's all-time leading rusher after 10 seasons. His contract is for three years and reportedly includes $7.5 million guaranteed. Gore will help replace LeSean McCoy. The two-time All-Pro will be traded to the Buffalo Bills on Tuesday.

Maxwell started 17 games for the Seattle Seahawks over the last two seasons and played opposite All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman in a star-studded secondary that includes All-Pro safety Earl Thomas and three-time Pro Bowl safety Kam Chancellor. His deal is for five years and reportedly is worth $54 million with $25 million guaranteed.

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Frank Gore deserves fresh start with Eagles

There should be a waitlist of volunteers to chauffeur Frank Gore to the airport.

The TSA screening area should be backed with admirers bidding him farewell, cheering when his plane takes off for Philadelphia.

No 49er deserves a fresh start more than Gore. He's earned the right to hunt for a Super Bowl, to earn every nickel he's worth, to value his legacy over his loyalty to the 49ers.

So if he decided to play for the Eagles -- who reportedly are ready to sign him to a two-year deal with $7.5 million guaranteed -- then that's exactly where he should go. I'd even recommend a couple underrated cheesesteak joints, reciprocity for the thank-you pizza he bought the media at the end of last season.

Of course, having Gore retire a 49er would have been ideal. He is the all-time leading rusher, the greatest 49er since the glory years ended with the departure of Jerry Rice and Steve Young. But the risk of Gore spending his golden years with a sinking team disrespects what he's meant to the franchise.

Sure, the 49ers could end up a playoff team and Gore could be the inspirational leader of a surprising title run. It's possible.

But even more possible is that not happening. If the 49ers finished with six wins, 10 losses and two arrests, no one would be shocked.

Gore said at the end of the year he wanted to stay with the 49ers, but he would wait to see how things went. Who would be the coaches. Which players were kept. Which players were added.

The result was Gore choosing to leave.

How telling is it for the franchise that touts "winning with class" that it is losing its classiest player? The news regarding the departure of Gore comes days after the news about the arrival of Jerome Simpson, who's been arrested three times and suspended twice. If that doesn't illustrate how the 49ers are trending ...

The potential for Gore to be stuck in more mess, to exhaust his last fourth-quarter bursts on a spirited pursuit of 8-8, should be unsettling for anyone who claims to appreciate Gore.

He's posted eight 1,000-yard seasons with the 49ers. The first four of those were for NFC West scrubs as he did his best to carry the team. When the 49ers became
a contender, Gore remained productive and reliable -- embodying teams that thrived on toughness and heart.

Though he has stiff-armed annual predictions that he was washed up, even Gore has to know he has only so many runs through the line of scrimmage remaining. It's better if he spent those on meaningful football.

Indianapolis might've been a better fit. New England might've been a surer bet. Dallas might've made a bigger splash. But Philadelphia is better for Gore than the current 49ers.

The Eagles crumbled down the stretch last year and didn't make the playoffs. But that was largely because of the injury to quarterback Nick Foles. Now healthy, they should be a factor in the NFC.

On top of that, Gore figures to get plenty of touches since featured back LeSean McCoy was traded to Buffalo. That matters because Gore still needs another 927 yards to get to 12,000 for his career, which is working out to be baseline for Hall of Fame credentials. If Gore matches his output from last season, he'll pass Thurman Thomas on the career rushing yards list.

Another perk: Being in the Northeast will help Gore's legacy. With more viewers and more media, Gore can build his lore. Imagine how his gritty, clutch runs will be glorified inside the East Coast media machine. That helps his anecdotal case for a yellow jacket.

To be sure, Gore is helping out the 49ers. His leaving takes them off the hook for having to let him go. They can't afford to pay him what Philadelphia reportedly will, not if they want to plug other holes. And they might not want to pay a 31-year-old running back who has a young horse in Carlos Hyde waiting behind him.

The 49ers might've wanted Gore back for sentimental reasons, but it makes sense if they are relieved. Gore fans should be relieved, too. An all-time great 49er gets the chance to ride off into the sunset instead of mire in the muck.

Godspeed, Frank Gore.

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Eagles free-agent targets: RB Frank Gore

Frank Gore, RB
Age: 31
Height: 5-9
Weight: 217
Last team: San Francisco 49ers

Scouting report
Entering his 11th season, Gore has been one of the most productive running backs in the sport over the past decade. The five-time Pro Bowl halfback and former Miami star has exceeded 1,000 yards eight times in 10 seasons and ranks second to Steven Jackson as the NFL’s active leading rusher with 11,073 yards. His 64 career rushing touchdowns is fifth among active NFL halfbacks and he’s top 10 with an average of 4.5 yards per carry. Gore hasn’t worn down over the years. He’s played 16 games in each of the past four seasons and has exceeded 1,100 yards in each of the four. He also has 342 career catches for 2,883 yards and 11 receiving touchdowns. Gore made $6.45 million last year in base salary and bonuses.

Geoff’s take
I absolutely believe Gore would be a great free-agent addition. He’s shown no signs of breaking down — the opposite, actually — and he won’t cost the Eagles much. He wouldn’t even be a full-time ball carrier as Chip Kelly will surely go to the committee approach. Gore’s skill set is perfect for Kelly’s inside and outside zone schemes. He’s a powerful, north-south, one-cut runner who can still break long runs because he has tremendously quick feet. He’s hardly super speedy but he’s patient and agile. He’s the kind of running back who could thrive getting the ball 10-12 times in Kelly’s offense. As long as he’s willing to be a piece of the pie — an inexpensive one — Gore could be a really nice pickup.

Roob’s take
I’d love to see the Eagles sign Gore just so I can watch Marcus Smith try to cover him at practice. OK, cheap shot. I love Gore. How can you not? Consistent, durable, productive. And like Mosh said, he’s playing as well as ever. He’s one of only five backs in NFL history with four 1,100-yard seasons after his 28th birthday. The others are Ricky Watters, Walter Payton, Tiki Barber and Thomas Jones (of all people). Assuming Gore’s age scares away most teams and his asking price is reasonable, I’d consider bringing him in as a part-time guy. Assuming Roc Carmichael is willing to give up his No. 21 jersey.

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To get Super Bowl ring, Frank Gore might need to leave Niners

Run, Frank, run.

Away from the 49ers.

Of all the 49ers’ players who become free agents next Tuesday, Frank Gore is the most prominent. The most revered.

And though I don’t expect a professional football player to listen to my advice, I can’t help but offer it.

Gore has been the heartbeat of the 49ers since the moment he arrived in 2005. Humble, hard working, unselfish, abundantly productive. He has been through all the bad times, as well as the good. He has run, he has blocked, he has fought through injuries, he has persevered and he has been written off more times than my mortgage payments.

The 49ers’ all-time leading rusher, one of only 20 players in NFL history to rush for 11,000 yards, Gore has a Hall of Fame resume. He’s missing one thing: a Super Bowl championship.

And now, a few months shy of 32 and a free agent for the first time, Gore should pursue his best chance at a ring.

I don’t think his best chance is with the 49ers. I could be wrong, but many who aren’t either on the 49ers’ payroll or blinded by a fan’s devotion to the team share my opinion.

The 49ers have too many questions, coming off an 8-8 season in which they didn’t make the playoffs. They have downgraded their coaching staff at every position, save Gore’s, where Tom Rathman was retained. Their quarterback remains a huge question mark, having struggled in his third season as a starter. Colin Kaepernick isn’t the only mystery on the offense; the offensive line was a problem last year, the wide-receiver corps is in flux, and who knows if Vernon Davis will show up next season?

Gore, at his age, needs a solid surrounding cast to be able to do what he does best.

Indianapolis — a team on the championship brink — is said to be very interested in Gore. Who wouldn’t want to share a backfield with Andrew Luck? In addition, Rob Chudzinski — the man the 49ers reportedly pursued to be their offensive coordinator and who has ties to Gore from the University of Miami — is the associate head coach for the Colts.

Indy isn’t the only potential landing spot. The defending champion, New England, doesn’t mind adding an experienced running back now and again. Baltimore’s John Harbaugh knows what Gore can do. Dallas might need to replace its free agent, DeMarco Murray. Teams in the 49ers’ division are in the market for running backs, and they might be closer to a championship than San Francisco. I expect Gore, one of the most respected players in the game, will have suitors.

Gore has been tantalizingly close to a championship once. On Feb. 3, 2013, in the Superdome, it was Gore’s late-game rushing as much as anything that put the 49ers in position to win. Gore’s 33-yard carry took the 49ers down to the Ravens’ 7-yard line, and then he watched, without getting the ball, as the 49ers failed to score, and lost the Super Bowl.

That was the nearest he has come to a ring.

Gore expressed frustration several times last season. It was clear he was worried that his mysterious lack of opportunity on the field wasn’t hurting only the team but also potentially hurting his marketability. He told The Chronicle’s Eric Branch, in an interview in December, that he expected his age to be used against him on the open market.

“I know they’re going to say that,” he said. “Starting with my seventh year, they started saying that: I can’t do it. I can’t do it. I can’t do it. I’ve prepared myself for that. That’s why this year I’m upset that I really didn’t show the world that I’m still Frank Gore.

“If they watch the tape, they’ll see. Football people will watch the tape. People who don’t know football, they’ll go by the numbers.”

In that same interview, Gore said he wanted to be a “Niner for life” — but he also said he hoped Jim Harbaugh would return as head coach, which obviously didn’t happen. And, perhaps foreshadowing, he mentioned Alex Smith as one of the players he most respected, pointing out how well Smith has done in a different uniform.

The 49ers have invested in two young running backs, Carlos Hyde and Kendall Hunter. The latter will be coming off an ACL injury. The 49ers also don’t have a lot of cap space. They might want Gore to give them a hometown discount.

Gore has to weigh his options and decide where is his best chance for a championship.

If he leaves, I’ll miss him. He has been one my favorite athletes to cover ever since he arrived with the 49ers. Many sports fans can’t believe that sports journalists don’t root for teams. Though these days plenty of “media” cross the line into fandom, professionals who cover teams for impartial outlets do not root for teams they cover. We don’t cheer for the laundry.

That part is easy. However, we do get attached to the good people we cover. And Gore is one of them: honest and humble and respected by all.

The 49ers need him more than he needs them. His loss would be huge to a team that will be struggling to remake itself.

I hope he goes and gets himself a ring. I’ll be the first one cheering.

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Frank Gore: Two views on the 49ers re-signing their all-time leading rusher

Turns out the 49ers might need Frank Gore more than Gore needs the 49ers. That’s particularly true for a 49ers team that needs as much good pub as it can possibly get after the fiasco that ensued when Jim Harbaugh left.

Gore re-signs
After 10 seasons and over 11,000 rushing yards, Gore’s mug might be the most recognizable on the team. No one plays with more class than Gore, whose work ethic and dedication always soaks through the entire team. Gore’s deeds are immense and his words are sparing, so when he tells the media that so-and-so “is a football player” everyone instantly knows he has the Gore stamp of approval, and nothing goes further than that.

The 49ers know all of this, and that’s why the team may be eager to sign him. His 100-yard games at the end of last season are proof he still has plenty left. His space-age training regiment certainly helps, and he is Denise DeBartolo York’s favorite player, and SHE is the one who actually owns the team. It’s in her name.
Furthermore Gore could come at half his $6 million-a-year price from the last few years. And the 49ers are always looking to shave player cost.

Gore signs elsewhere
At the combine, Gore’s agent Drew Rosenhaus met with team officials according to reports. The two sides left and no deal was struck. That likely means Gore will shop the free-agent market, and wouldn’t he look good in the Colts’ blue-and-white?

He might think so. Gore could be the weight that tips the scales for Indy as a true Super Bowl contender, and for the first time, Gore would be playing with a richly-talented quarterback. It had to be frustrating for Gore to pass block like a demon, and then watch while Colin Kaepernick fled a perfectly-defined pocket.

In fact, so frustrating that Gore didn’t pass block very well last season. But if Gore knew that Andrew Luck would make a team pay dearly for blitzing a linebacker, Gore is likely to flat-back a ‘backer or two in pass pro.

Gore has waited too long, and dedicated too much to a team that now may be returning to mediocrity. If he could be a center piece for another team poised for a Super Bowl, Gore could bolt.

In the final analysis Gore wants to stay. He has mad respect for running backs coach Tom Rathman, and if Gore can still be the main guy carrying the mail, he could finish his career as a 49er. But now, it’s up to the 49ers to deliver on their end with both a contract and as a team that can win. If the 49ers can’t deliver, the mug of the franchise could be playing for someone else.


Frank Gore May Stay With 49ers

Late last season, it seemed almost certain that Frank Gore was on his last legs as a 49er.

The veteran running back -- who will turn 32 this May -- was having a subpar season in the last year of his contract.

His age and salary didn’t line up with the 49ers' plans.

But now, after Gore’s late-season brilliance showed he’s still effective, the team appears intent on bringing Gore back for another season. Gore rushed for more than 300 yards combined over his final two games to finish with more than 1,100.

Niners general manager Trent Baalke, speaking to reporters at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis this week, said, “We’re going to do what we can to get him back as a 49er.”

New head coach Jim Tomsula, also in Indianapolis, echoed Baalke. Tomsula, in fact, said the team was in negotiations with both Gore and wide receiver Michael Crabtree.

“Those talks are happening this week,” Tomsula said at a news conference, reported Marc Sessler of “I don’t have the checkbook, so I’m not in those particular conversations, but I do know that leaving San Francisco, heading to the airport the other day, that everything was lined up to talk to all of our people.”

Generally, running backs decline rapidly after age 30. But Gore has remained in top condition, forged by challenging offseason workouts, and has brought much more to the team than his talents as a ballcarrier. Players and coaches have cited his leadership, work ethic and hard-nosed approach as a plus for the entire team. He remains one of the NFL’s best-blocking running backs, particularly in pass protection.

Said Tomsula: “I’m a big Frank Gore guy.”

If he does return, however, it likely will be for less money than the $6.5 million he earned in each of his past two seasons. Baalke told Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee that the team and Gore are trying to work things out.

“We’re still working on it,” Baalke told Barrows. “It’s not something that’s going to get done yesterday. It’ll take some time to resolve. It’s our intention to have Frank back.”

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Instagram post leads to conversation between 49ers, Frank Gore

An Instagram post from running back Frank Gore caught the attention of the 49ers front office.

On Sunday, Gore wrote, "I know the fans love me but I need to know if the management does," to those following him on the social media website. That caused the 49ers to call Gore, with the two parties discussing the intent behind the message.

“We reached out. He reached out back," 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said, via The Sacramento Bee. "He wasn't expecting [his post] to take legs like it did. Nor were we. He didn't have any intentions by it and he made that very clear in our conversations.”

Baalke said the 49ers have continued talks with Gore's representation and that they are hopeful of reaching a new deal with him.

Gore is set to enter free agency for the first time in his career. With the 49ers in 2014, Gore rushed for 1,106 yards and four touchdowns. The 49ers drafted Gore in the third round of the 2005 NFL draft.

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Trent Baalke: 49ers Want to Re-sign Frank Gore

INDIANAPOLIS -- If there were any doubt regarding whether or not the San Francisco 49ers want Frank Gore back for an 11th season in red and gold, general manager Trent Baalke made the organization’s intentions perfectly clear on Wednesday.

“We’re going to do what we can to get him back as a 49er,” Baalke said in front of a packed media crowd inside Lucas Oil Stadium at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Gore, the franchise’s all-time leading rusher, is set to become a free agent this offseason for the first time in his distinguished career.

Baalke confirmed to reporters that the two sides have engaged in conversations recently.

“I talked to him the other day on the phone,” Baalke said. “He’s a very good football player and one of the most, if not the most, passionate football players I’ve ever been around.”

Gore’s numbers were up and down in 2014, but he ended the year with consecutive stellar performances in the team’s final two games.

Against the San Diego Chargers and Arizona Cardinals, Gore rushed for a combined 302 yards on 51 carries to finish with his eighth 1,000-yard season and surpass 11,000 total yards for his career.

Asked on Wednesday if Gore, who turns 32 in May, can still play at an elite level, Baalke responded emphatically.

“Everyone asks that question all the time. I think I’ve been asked that question for five straight years now,” Baalke said. “Frank is the Energizer battery, he just keeps on ticking.

“In the last two games of the season, I think you saw what Frank still has left in the tank.”

If the 49ers are unable to sign Gore, the team would likely turn to Carlos Hyde and Kendall Hunter to carry the load in 2015.

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Colts Reportedly 'Shoe-in' to Land 49ers Frank Gore

According to Bleacher Report NFL Analyst Matt Miller, the Indianapolis Colts are a “shoe-in” to land soon-to-be 49ers free agent running back Frank Gore. Miller further commented that “there is no way” he ends back with the 49ers, and specifically mentioned that, “Both Chuck Pagano and Rob Chudzinski, with his University of Miami connection, want him”.

The 10-year running back is coming off yet another productive season, in which he rushed for 1,106 rushing yards on 255 carries and 4 rushing touchdowns. However, set to turn 32 years old in May, the 49ers are reportedly opting to go with the younger and cheaper Carlos Hyde at starting running back moving forward.

Earlier, we noted that Frank Gore had interest in playing for the Colts via a report from Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee. With Trent Richardson being a disappointment and veteran Ahmad Bradshaw always seemingly brittle, the Colts could clearly use an upgrade at the starting running back position for next season.

As a former 3rd round pick of the 49ers in 2005 out of the University of Miami (FL), Gore is the 49ers franchise’s all-time leading rusher with 11,073 career rushing yards, all in red and gold. He’s a beloved veteran player in San Francisco, much like Reggie Wayne is to the Colts’ franchise. Gore has only missed 1 start for the 49ers in the past 4 seasons and has rushed for over 1,000 rushing yards in 8 of his 10 seasons in the NFL.

While Gore’s best years are likely behind him, he could still be a productive running back for the Colts and upgrade the position next season. However, there’s tremendous risk in investing a lot of money and cap space in a running back on the wrong side of 30 with a lot of mileage on his tires even if they’ve been as productive and durable as Gore has proven to be.

All things considered, Gore looks like he should have at least 2-3 productive seasons left as a high-end starting caliber NFL running back. While his numbers should decline given his advancing age and increased wear-and-tear, it looks to me that on a short-term 1 or 2-year deal, he could be an ideal fit to solve the Colts running back woes on a contending football team for the immediate future.

Having already looked at whether the Colts should pursue Frank Gore, it looks as though he’s still in line to have another 2-3 high caliber starting seasons in him compared to other successful 32 year old running backs.

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Report: 49ers, Frank Gore 'engaged in contract discussions'

Just days after running back Frank Gore posted a message on Instagram about how he wasn't sure whether San Francisco wanted him back for another season, his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, and the 49ers have "engaged in contract discussions," according to Ed Werder of ESPN.

Drafted in the third round of the 2005 NFL Draft, Gore totaled 11,073 yards and 64 touchdowns on the ground over his 10-year career with the 49ers. He is the 20th player in NFL history to reach 11,000 rushing yards in a career. Last year, Gore also cracked the 1,000-yard threshold for the eighth time in his career, registering 1,106 rushing yards and four touchdowns. He is set to become a free agent on March 10.

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Frank Gore isn't sure if 49ers actually want him back

San Francisco 49ers general manager Trent Baalke told both Frank Gore and the media in December that he wants the franchise's all-time leading rusher back with the team in 2015. Two months later, Gore isn't so convinced that the team actually wants him back.

After 10 seasons with the team that drafted him in the third round of the 2005 NFL Draft, Gore is coming closer to reaching free agency for the first time in his career. On Instagram, the running back has questioned the team's commitment to him.

On Sunday, Gore posted a photo with the caption "Wht should I do" and questioned the 49ers' intentions in another since-deleted post:

"I know the fans love me but I need to know if the management does but I'm going to love my fans no matter what."

Gore's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, isn't as suspicious of the 49ers and told ESPN's Ed Werder on Monday that there is nothing negative between the two sides and Baalke has expressed hope to re-sign Gore.

This offseason represents the first one in Gore's career in which he's had an expiring contract. In both 2007 and 2011 Gore received contract extensions when he had one season still remaining with the 49ers. That could just be brewing up some paranoia in the running back's mind, especially after Baalke's shaky start to the 2015 offseason forced out Jim Harbaugh, who was a favorite of Gore's.

In 10 seasons with the team, Gore has 11,073 career rushing yards, 76 total touchdowns and five Pro Bowl selections. He is 20th on the NFL's all-time rushing list and just four touchdowns behind Joe Perry for the most career rushing touchdowns with the 49ers.

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Frank Gore: Should The 49ers Bring Him Back?

The 49ers have a choice to make this offseason: whether or not to bring back their franchise all-time leading rusher, Frank Gore. To me, this decision is a fairly easy one. However, as it is with most things in life, it will come down to money.

This offseason has already been one loaded with change for the 49ers. They basically have a completely new coaching staff and will most likely be facing more roster turnover than they’ve experienced in recent years. What they need now is a strong presence on and off the field. And one of the most well respected guys in the 49ers locker room is Frank Gore. While his play on the field has started to decline a little bit recently, he’s still very capable and can teach young guys like Kendall Hunter and Carlos Hyde a few things.

Even though Gore is one of the most important players on the roster, this is still a business. General Managers can’t make decisions based on how well liked a player is by the fan base or because a player is the franchise’s all-time leading rusher. This is a “what have you done for me lately” league and it always comes down to money. Gore is set to be a free agent this offseason and the 49ers don’t have a ton of cap space. The 49ers will obviously try bringing him back on an extremely cap friendly deal but if Gore wants more money or more years than the 49ers brass thinks he deserves there’s a good chance he can walk. While I believe the 49ers should make a strong effort to bring him back, I don’t think they should handicap their salary cap situation just to bring him back.

As far as on the field performance and locker room contributions go, it’s not a hard decision about whether the 49ers should bring Gore back or not. What makes it difficult is the contract situation. If the 49ers and Frank Gore are on different pages about where the money should be, we could see this situation deteriorate very quickly. And for the record, Gore has made it known that he wants to be a 49er for life and I think he ends up taking a cap friendly deal to stay on for another season. Gore wants to make one final Super Bowl run with this team, which isn’t out of the question with the talent they have on this roster.

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Is Frank Gore more or less likely to return to 49ers?

If the 49ers had landed Rob Chudzinski, who was Gore's offensive coordinator at Miami (and who is considered 'old-school Miami,' whatever the heck that means) I would have said the odds have improved. The way the staff has been assembled now – eh, I'm not sure it moves the needle in any particular direction. Frank Gore wants two things: 1.) to win a Super Bowl. 2.) To have another 1,000-yard season, which will get him beyond 12,000 for his career, a barometer for the hall of fame. If he feels he can do that with the 49ers, then it's a no-brainer. But he may keep his options open in March and determine if another teams gives him a better chance to meet his goals. Are the 49ers going to hand the keys to the kingdom to Carlos Hyde? Are they going to incorporate a zone-blocking or stretch running attack? These are questions Gore wants to know before making a decision. I've mentioned before: Gore wonders whether he could be the missing element in Indianapolis, which lacked a strong running game for most of the season.

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‘Frank’s a 49er’

Although Frank Gore and general manager Trent Baalke have expressed a mutual desire to bring back the 49ers’ all-time leading rusher, two months remain for that to happen before Gore becomes a free agent.

Said Baalke: “Frank’s a 49ers. Frank knows exactly how we feel and that discussion has been had.”

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Frank Gore Reportedly Interested in Colts

According to Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee, longtime San Francisco 49ers’ running back Frank Gore is interested in signing with the Indianapolis Colts as a free agent after the season. The 10-year veteran running back just played out the final year of his contract, which paid him $6.45MM in 2014.

However, if it were up to Gore, his 1st choice would be remaining with the San Francisco 49ers:

“One player who will be intently watching the weekend’s Colts-Broncos game? Running back Frank Gore. His top choice is to remain with the 49ers. But he’s also curious about playing with Andrew Luck and wonders whether a quality tailback is the missing element in Indianapolis’ offense.”

While Gore is getting up there in years for a running back (he’ll turn 32 this May), he’s still been incredibly durable and consistently productive throughout his NFL career. This season he rushed for 1,106 rushing yards on 255 carries (4.3 ypc) for 4 touchdowns.

As a former 3rd round pick of the 49ers in 2005 out of the University of Miami (FL), Gore is the 49ers franchise’s all-time leading rusher with 11,073 career rushing yards, all in red and gold. He’s a beloved veteran player in San Francisco, much like Reggie Wayne is to the Colts’ franchise.

It’s worth noting that the Colts could clearly use an upgrade in their backfield too with Ahmad Bradshaw‘s (free agent) brittle health, Trent Richardson‘s ineffectiveness, and Dan “Boom” Herron best served as part of a platoon at running back. Gore could give the Colts an element in their offense, that they simply haven’t had without a healthy Ahmad Bradshaw.

However, while he could become a revelation like Eddie Lacy has been for the Green Bay Packers, giving the Colts’ high profile passing offense a unique smashmouth element, he could also become a bit of free agent disappointment like Steven Jackson has recently been with the Atlanta Falcons.

After a great career with the St. Louis Rams, the then-29 year old acclaimed running back signed a lucrative contract with the Falcons in the 2013 offseason to provide a new power rushing game to their offensive attack. Yet in two seasons in Atlanta, Jackson has yet to eclipse 1,000 rushing yards in a season. He’s rushed for a combined 1,250 yards on 347 carries, resulting in a mediocre 3.6 yards per carry.

While Gore’s best years are likely behind him, he could still be a productive running back for the Colts and upgrade the position next season. However, there’s tremendous risk in investing a lot of money and cap space in a running back on the wrong side of 30 with a lot of mileage on his tires even if they’ve been as productive and durable as Gore has proven to be.

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Frank Gore: 'Weird knowing' 49ers contract almost up

Frank Gore knows the end might be near in San Francisco.

Set to become a free agent this spring, the veteran 49ers running back is prepared to suit up elsewhere in 2015.

"I've been here 10 years, and it could be last two games here this year," Gore said, per the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's weird knowing that I won't be under contract any more. But I've been in the league long enough to understand it's a business."

While the possibility remains that the 31-year-old Gore could re-sign with the team, we don't expect that to happen. The Niners appear ready to hand the starting job over to rookie Carlos Hyde, their second-round pick who has looked good in spurts this autumn.

One of the rare examples of a runner signing two contract extensions with the team that drafted him, Gore is bound to find a new home. He might not be featured-back material going forward, but he can still bruise defenses with his hard-charging, tackle-breaking gallops.

With Marshawn Lynch also likely to move on from Seattle, we're in for an interesting offseason with more than a few big-name backs hitting the open market.

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Frank Gore on 49ers: 'If they want to bring me back, they will'

Frank Gore is 31 years old and in his 10th NFL season, all played with the San Francisco 49ers. Earlier this season, Gore became the 29th player ever to rush for at least 10,000 yards in his career. Of that 29, Gore has the seventh-highest yards per carry. Along with Curtis Martin, Gore is one of only two players on that list drafted outside the first two rounds, and one of only six not drafted in the first round. Suffice to say, he has had a terrific career in San Francisco and has exceeded all reasonable expectations from when he was drafted.

But his contract is up at the end of the season, and he knows some people will say he's finished because he's too old. "I know they're going to say that," Gore told "Starting with my seventh year, they started saying that: I can't do it. I can't do it. I can't do it. I've prepared myself for that. That's why this year, I'm upset that I really didn't show the world that I'm still Frank Gore."

Gore's 3.9 yards per carry this season is the worst of his career, and his longest run of the season is only 28 yards. His 14.6 carries per game are his fewest since his rookie year, as are his 57.4 yards per game.

He's on pace to finish with less than 1,000 rushing yards in a season during which he played all 16 games for the first time in his career. The only years Gore has failed to run for 1,000 yards were his rookie season, when he split carries with Kevan Barlow, and in 2010, when Gore played only 11 games due to various injuries.
This year, Gore is on pace for only 233 carries, which would be his fewest ever in a full season.

As for the reason he hasn't gotten quite as many oppportunities to run the ball this year as in years past, Gore said game situations -- too many three-and-outs, getting behind on the scoreboard -- have dictated a different offensive flow for the 49ers than what we're used to seeing. "I know coach G-Ro [offensive coordinator Greg Roman] -- he loves to run the ball. This year, has just been totally different. As an offense, we never got into a zone, you know what I mean? That's probably the reason."

Gore made it clear that he would like to return to San Francisco, but if it's not in the cards, he still wants to keep playing. "If they want to bring me back, they will. They'll come to me in a respectful way. We'll sit down, see what they want me to do. See what my role is and if I like it, I'll sign. If I don't, I'll try to see what other teams think of me."

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Eight enough for Canton? Frank Gore poised to join elite company

If Sunday marks the end of the Frank Gore era with the 49ers, it appears it will finish fittingly: With the franchise’s rushing leader posting another 1,000-yard season.

After his turn-back-the-clock 158-yard performance in a 38-35 overtime loss to San Diego on Saturday, Gore needs just 38 yards in the regular-season finale against Arizona on Sunday to collect the eighth 1,000-yard season of his 10-year career.

If he hits 1,000, he will join exclusive company. Only 10 running backs in NFL history have had eight 1,000-yard seasons. Among those running backs, seven are in the Hall of Fame and the other three – Jerome Bettis, LaDainian Tomlinson and still-active Steven Jackson – could eventually be enshrined in Canton.

Bettis has been a Hall-of-Fame finalist every year since he became eligible for induction in 2011; Tomlinson, a shoo-in, retired in 2011 and isn’t eligible and Jackson ranks 16th all-time in rushing.

Gore needs 39 yards Sunday to pass Warrick Dunn and join Jackson in the NFL’s top-20 in career rushing. Of the NFL’s top 20, 13 are in the Hall of Fame. The seven not in Canton: Tomlinson (5th), Bettis (6th), Edgerrin James (11th), Fred Taylor (15th), Jackson (16th), Corey Dillon (18th) and Dunn (20th).

Hall of a Group
Running backs with eight 1,000-yard seasons:
11: *Emmitt Smith
10: *Curtis Martin; *Walter Payton; *Barry Sanders
8: Jerome Bettis; *Eric Dickerson; *Tony Dorsett; Steven Jackson; Thurman Thomas; *LaDainian Tomlinson.

* Hall of Fame

NFL Career Rushing

With a productive season in 2015, Gore can move into the top 15 on the all-time list:
10. Marshall Faulk, 12,279
11. Edgerrin James, 12,246
12. Marcus Allen, 12,243
13. Franco Harris, 12,120
14. Thurman Thomas, 12,074
15. Fred Taylor, 11,695
16. Steven Jackson, 11,388
17. John Riggins, 11,352
18. Corey Dillon, 11,241
19. O.J. Simpson, 11,236
20. Warrick Dunn, 10,967
21. Frank Gore, 10,929

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Frank Gore takes advantage of matchup

Going against a defense that was strong against the pass but weak against the run, the 49ers clearly made running back Frank Gore a bigger part of their game plan Week 16 against San Diego, giving him eight carries on the team's first three drives. He finished with 26 for 158 yards, both season highs.

Of course, the increased workload may have had something to do with the absence of backup Carlos Hyde, who had been cutting into Gore's carries in recent weeks, with moderate effectiveness. Hyde is sidelined for an unspecified amount of time with an ankle injury.

Gore's performance may have earned him a bigger workload Week 17 against Arizona regardless. The Cardinals defense is kind of the opposite of the Chargers, though. It's much more effective against the run than the pass.

If nothing else, you at least have some hope for Gore making a relevant contribution in Week 17, but because the matchup isn't as favorable, he's still probably a sit in typical 12-team leagues.

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Frank Gore hopeful to play

Frank Gore continues to work through the NFL’s concussion protocol after suffering the injury Sunday in Seattle and San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said Thursday he anticipates the running back suiting up Saturday.

It is a short work week for the 49ers as they play Saturday night at home against the San Diego Chargers. Gore, who did not practice Wednesday, was able to go in a limited fashion on Thursday.

Rookie backup Carlos Hyde, though, remained out and Alfonso Smith would get the majority of carries should neither Gore nor Hyde play.

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Frank Gore sits out

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Eliminated from the playoff race with two games remaining in the season, the San Francisco 49ers' injury report looked especially bloated Wednesday afternoon with 17 players listed, including nine who did not practice in advance of Saturday's prime time home game against the San Diego Chargers.

And with their top two tailbacks, starter Frank Gore and rookie backup Carlos Hyde, among the observers, it is easy to see why the Niners signed running back Phillip Tanner earlier in the day. Tanner spent the first three years of his NFL career with the Dallas Cowboys.

Tight end Garrett Celek (ankle) was placed on season-ending injured reserve in the corresponding roster move, giving the Niners 15 players on IR. Per ESPN Stats & Info, the Niners had just five players in IR in 2011 and 2012, respectively, and nine players on the list last season.

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Frank Gore doesn’t practice Tuesday

Two of the 49ers’ three tailbacks are hurting as the club enters the homestretch of its season.

Veteran Frank Gore, who suffered a concussion in Sunday’s loss at Seattle, did not practice Tuesday as he goes through the league-mandated protocol, per Matt Maiocco of

Furthermore, rookie Carlos Hyde (back/ankle) wasn’t spotted on the field at the outset of practice, Maiocco said. The 49ers (7-7) host the Chargers on Saturday night at Levi’s Stadium.

If Gore and/or Hyde are out, veteran Alfonso Smith would likely be in line for more work. The club also has first-year back Kendall Gaskins on the practice squad.

The 49ers seemed to have enviable tailback depth entering 2014. However, that depth has been slowly chipped away. First, fourth-year pro Kendall Hunter suffered a season-ending ACL tear in July. Then, third-year back LaMichael James was released in September. Later, Marcus Lattimore ended his two-season comeback from serious knee injuries.

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Frank Gore Injured

SEATTLE -- Injuries to 49ers running backs Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde kept them from returning to Sunday's 17-7 loss to the Seahawks, and by game's end, third-string running back Alfonso Smith was getting his first carries of the season.

Gore left with a concussion, not long after his second-quarter touchdown run gave the 49ers a 7-3 halftime lead. He was injured in front of the 49ers sideline while making a block of Bobby Wagner on a Bruce Miller reception.

Wagner also ended Hyde's day, doing so with a tackle that bent Hyde backward on the first snap after the Seahawks' go-ahead touchdown late in the third quarter.

"It looked bad," Hyde said. "I saw the replay and said, 'Ooh, looks like I tore my knee up.' I'm all right, though."

Once Gore went out, the 49ers lost yards on three consecutive plays -- Kaepernick got sacked twice and lost a yard on a run -- and punted with 1:53 left in the half. Gore's 10-yard touchdown run put the 49ers ahead 7-3, as he followed key blocks from Miller, Alex Boone and Asante Cleveland. It was Gore's third rushing touchdown this season and first in five games.

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Frank Gore: 'Hard to get in a rhythm' in 49ers' offense

The San Francisco 49ers under Jim Harbaugh have earned a reputation for pulverizing opponents with the run. But not this season.

Coming off three straight 1,000-yard campaigns, workhorse back Frank Gore has struggled to move the ball on the ground for a milquetoast Niners offense that laid an egg on Sunday against the two-win Oakland Raiders.

San Francisco came into the year hoping to manage Gore's carries and keep the 31-year-old bruiser fresh, but his 14.8 totes per game -- his lowest since 2005 -- have had the opposite effect.

"It's hard to get in a rhythm," Gore said this week, per the San Francisco Chronicle. "As players, you have to be in a rhythm on the field to be successful. And it's been tough all year to get in a rhythm."

Not just for Gore. The entire 49ers attack has been tough to watch this season. What used to be one of the league's most creative schemes has sputtered of late to rank dead last in points per game since Week 7.

We don't like their chances against Seattle's high-flying defense on Sunday and we don't expect Harbaugh -- or Gore -- to stick around beyond this season. The rhythm in San Francisco is about to shift from the ground up.

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Frank Gore uses colorful language to praise Bobby Wagner

RENTON, Wash. – San Francisco 49ers running Frank Gore had some colorful comments Wednesday on a conference call when asked about the Seattle Seahawks defense. He is extra impressed with middle linebacker Bobby Wagner.

“That 54, Bobby, man, he f---ing fast as f---, man," Gore said.

Well, OK. Wagner smirked when he heard what Gore had to say, but also appreciated the thought.

“It’s a great compliment coming from a great player,” Wagner said. “I love playing against him. Every time is a fun matchup because he’s a great running back. He’s a very shifty guy and I’m looking forward to playing him again Sunday.”

So does Wagner agree with Gore about saying Wagner’s speed is his best asset?

“I think it’s one of them,” Wagner said. “I take pride in my speed, but I’m a big guy, too, and like to be physical.”

Gore had nothing but nice things to say about the Seahawks.

“They play great together and I respect their team a lot," Gore said. “I can’t take nothing away from 'em.”

But Gore is shocked to see his team at 7-6 and having only a slim chance of making the playoffs.

“It’s tough, man,” he said. “It’s been difficult for us. The games we should have won we didn’t take control of. I’m not happy about the situation where we’re at. Things just haven’t gone right for us this year, but I just want to try and finish it out right and give them boys up there [the Seahawks] a good game and get the win.”

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Frank Gore earned a roster bonus Sunday afternoon

San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore earned a sizable roster bonus on Sunday, in what was his 13th active game this season. According to Field Yates, Gore earned a $750,000 bonus. Gore was due $2.75 million in bonuses in 2014. The remaining $2 million is broken down into 16 game-day roster bonuses of $125,000. He has been active the first 13 games, and barring the unforeseen, will be active the final three.

Gore finished the game with 63 yards on 12 carries. I am not entirely sure why the 49ers did not run the ball more, although to be fair, it sounds like Jim Harbaugh wasn't sure either. He was asked if he could

Gore enters free agency after this season, and his future with the 49ers is anybody's guess. Earlier this season I would have guessed it was a virtual certainty. As the season winds down, I am less certain what his future holds. After all, the 49ers will head into the offseason with Carlos Hyde and Kendall Hunter under contract. Hyde has shown some things at times, but with Hunter a huge question mark due to injury, is that enough to move on from Gore?

The free agency market actually has some quality talent available, but it remains to be seen what the cost will be given how running backs as a whole seem to lose value each year. Guys like DeMarco Murray, Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice, Ryan Mathews, Knowshon Moreno, Mark Ingram, C.J. Spiller and so many others are potentially hitting the market. This lengthy group of options could push down the cost of a mid-20s veteran, or it could very well mean the 49ers bring back Gore at a fairly minimal one or two-year deal.

And of course, there is the draft. Running backs have been sliding down draft boards in recent years, so there likely would not be a huge sense of urgency at the top. There are numerous options, including Melvin Gordon (Wisconsin), Todd Gurley (Georgia), Tevin Coleman (Indiana), Ameer Andullah (Nebraska), T.J. Yeldon (Alabama), Duke Johnson (Miami), Mike Davis (South Carolina), and Karlos Williams (Florida State). There will be plenty of options to consider in the offseason.

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Frank Gore: 'I'll Keep Fighting with My Teammates'

Following the San Francisco 49ers disappointing 24-13 loss on Sunday to the Oakland Raiders, Frank Gore insisted that he and the team would not give up on the season.

“I’ll keep fighting with my teammates,” Gore said. “I’m going to give my teammates 110 percent.”

At 7-6, the 49ers will likely need to win their final three games to have a shot at a postseason berth. San Francisco is three games out of first place in the NFC West and two games out of the final Wild Card spot. Multiple losses from Arizona, Detroit, Philadelphia, Seattle and Dallas would help the 49ers chances.

“I’ll see how the chips fall, and hopefully other teams help us,” Gore said. “I hope it happens. We’ll have to move forward from this one, but it’s tough.

“It’s my last year under contract, and I want to go out and at least get a shot to hold the trophy.”

After being held to a season-low three points in a loss to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 13, the 49ers offense started off well on Sunday, scoring a touchdown on its third possession of the game. San Francisco capped a 7-play, 60-yard drive with an 8-yard Bruce Miller touchdown catch.

But after that score, the 49ers would add just a pair of field goals the rest of the way.

“I don’t feel like we’re us,” Gore said. “It’s hard to get in a rhythm. As players, you have to be in a rhythm to be successful on the field. It’s been tough all year.”
Gore finished his day rushing 12 times for 63 yards.

San Francisco heads to Seattle for a Week 15 showdown with the Seahawks before finishing the regular season with consecutive home games versus the San Diego Chargers and Cardinals.

“We just have to clean up the mistakes and move forward,” Gore said.

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Frank Gore calls 24-13 upset the low point of an ‘off year’

Frank Gore has been through the 49ers’ ups and downs since 2005, and despite this season’s astonishingly rocky road, Sunday’s 24-13 loss to the NFL’s cellar-dwelling Raiders was even “shocking” to him.

“It’s been an off year,” Gore said.

Back-to-back losses have the third-place 49ers (7-6) reeling like never before in previous stretch runs under fourth-year coach Jim Harbaugh. With three games remaining, they are three back of NFC West-leading Arizona Cardinals (10-3) and two out of the wild-card hunt, which includes next Sunday’s rematch with the host Seattle Seahawks (9-4).

Gore, more than any of his teammates afterward, acknowledging how distant their playoff hopes are: “If we were to beat the Raiders, we’d still have a lot of hope. So I feel like this is the lowest point (of the season).

“It’s my last year under contract and I want to go out and at least get a shot to hold the trophy,” Gore added. “I’ll see how the chips fall, I’ll keep fighting with my teammates and hopefully other teams help us.”

Serving as symbolic and damning bookends to Sunday’s defeat were a pair of Colin Kaepernick passes that got intercepted, on the game’s first snap and on his penultimate toss in the final minutes.

“I’m giving everything I have every time I step on the field,” Kaepernick said. “I have to play better.”

After passing for a season-low 121 yards in a 19-3 Thanksgiving loss to Seattle, Kaepernick threw for 174 yards against the Raiders (18 of 33, one touchdown, two interceptions). He got sacked five times and drew three penalties for delay of game.

Although Gore agreed with a reporter’s assessment that everything starts with any quarterback on any team, he couched his response by adding: “Everybody’s had ups and downs, and bad games.”

Sunday brought an uncharacteristically bad game from the 49ers defense. That allowed rookie quarterback Derek Carr to lead the Raiders to only their second win in 12 games. Carr (22-of-28, 254 yards) threw three touchdowns, the final two of which erased the 49ers’ 13-10, third-quarter lead.

Carr got sacked once by an inept 49ers pass rush that played without outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks, who missed a Tuesday meeting because he said he thought the team had the day off. Brooks had started every game since 2010. Sunday he stood on the sideline with helmet in hand while Dan Skuta took his spot on run downs and occasionally Aaron Lynch on passing downs.

Brooks disagreed with his benching, and although the 49ers lacked pressure on Carr, repeated breakdowns in coverage led to seven-catch, one-touchdown days for fullback Marcel Reece and tight end Mychal Rivera.

The 49ers had taken a 13-10 lead on its first series after halftime, settling for a 20-yard field goal once Kaepernick’s third-down pass to Carlos Hyde gained only eight yards to the 2. The 49ers also led earlier 7-3 when Kaepernick completed an 8-yard touchdown pass to fullback Bruce Miller.

Gore’s 5.3 yards-per-carry average was his second-best this season, but he had just 12 carries for 63 yards. He refused to criticize his coaches’ play calls that have drawn scrutiny throughout this mysterious season of chaos and despair.

“I just don’t feel like we’re us,” Gore said. “It’s just hard to get in a rhythm. It’s just hard. It’s just hard. As a player you need to be in a rhythm on the field to be successful.  It’s been tough all year to get in a rhythm.”

Three games remain to find a rhythm. They can only hope one trend continues: they’ve twice answered back-to-back losses with three-game winning streaks.
“There is no surrendering,” said Harbaugh, whose future fell into further doubt entering the final year of his contract.  “… It falls on me if we don’t win these games.”

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Is running back Frank Gore still on top of his game?

SANTA CLARA -- Frank Gore knows the numbers look bad. The player that coach Jim Harbaugh recently described as Hall of Famer is averaging a career-worst 3.9 yards per carry, has only two rushing touchdowns and hasn't broken a run longer than 28 yards all season.

"If people just look at stats, they'll think I'm through," Gore, 31, said Wednesday. "But if you watch the film -- and know the game -- you'll see. When we play other teams, guys come after the game and say, 'Man, how do you do this? You still got it.' "

Gore and the rest of the sputtering offense will try to get their numbers back on track Sunday when the 49ers (7-5) face the Raiders (1-11) in Oakland. This is the 49ers' first game since their offensive debacle against the Seattle Seahawks, when they struggled to get the ball past midfield.
Gore had 28 yards on 10 carries in that game. His longest run of the day? It went for all of 7 yards.

Such a diminished role ranks high on the list of questions surrounding offensive coordinator Greg Roman's play-calling. The team's all-time leading rusher has topped 20 carries only twice and has yet to catch more than two passes in a game.

Instead, the 49ers' show belongs to quarterback Colin Kaepernick, and increasing red-zone cameos from Carlos Hyde (four TDs).

It's an odd turn considering that recent 49ers offenses have fared best with Gore at the heart of the action, thump-thump-thumping away for tough yards. Since Harbaugh's arrival, the 49ers are 18-0 when they have a 100-yard rusher and 33-1-1 when the team runs the ball at least 30 times.

Those stats can be self-fulfilling -- winning teams run the ball more as they wind down the clock. But opponents such as Raiders cornerback Tarell Brown say the numbers also reflect that Gore remains "the identity of their offense."

"He's the guy that keeps the train rolling,'' said Brown, who spent seven seasons in San Francisco. "Every successful game that they've had this year, he's started off physical and running the ball."

Gore has only two 100-yard games this season, both victories. He's also had games of 10, 20 and 28 yards, all losses.

"I've always been a rhythm guy," the five-time Pro Bowl selection said. "The more I take, the more I feel better. It's different now. ... This year it's harder to get into rhythm because (opponents) are playing the run. Our offensive coordinator is smart enough to go away from what he feels they're trying to stop."

The 49ers need to boost their 22nd-ranked offense in a hurry if they are to climb back into a NFC playoff spot. The postseason chase has extra meaning for Gore, who recognizes that his window for winning a Super Bowl is closing. And while he knows he's in no position to get greedy, the impending free agent wants to win one while he's still a featured back.

"It would be great for me to be The Man of the team -- to help my team get it," Gore said. "Some guys late in their career have to go and search (for opportunities elsewhere). They play ... but not really."

Being "the guy" for a Super Bowl champ might also secure that spot in the Hall of Fame. Harbaugh's declaration aside, voters might still be waiting to see whether Gore merits enshrinement because, for all his other accomplishments, he's never led the league in rushing, never finished among the league leaders in touchdowns and never finished higher than fourth in yards from scrimmage.

On the other hand, he's someone who has amassed 10,679 career rushing yards while playing for some bad teams at the peak of his powers.

He needs only 289 more to climb into the league's all-time 20. From that group, 13 are already in Canton and one more is a slam dunk (LaDainian Tomlinson).
"I think he'd be a great candidate for the Hall of Fame," said former 49ers star Roger Craig, a Hall of Fame semifinalist again this season. "He's pushing 11,000 yards. You get up in that category, you're doing something special."

Gore's case for the hall might also hinge on the voters' willingness to look beyond the stat sheet. His grasp of the game's subtleties -- such as pass protection -- remain known only to the purists.

"The way that he pass protects, I've never seen anything like it,'' fullback Bruce Miller said Wednesday. "You watch tape of other guys and other backs around the league, and you realize Frank is second to none. ... I've seen countless knockout shots and guys on the ground. You just don't expect it from a guy (who is 5-foot-9).

"He's not a big body. But he's got the leverage and the timing that goes into it. It's incredible."

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Frank Gore’s amazing dependability and consistency–he’s the only top RB who hasn’t missed a game since the start of 2011

And now just a few thoughts on the amazing durability and longevity of Frank Gore heading into today’s game against Washington…

Gore is 31, in his 10th NFL season, and his current total of 2,345 career carries is second among active runners only to Steven Jackson’s 2,681.
Jackson also is first among active runners in yards (11,148) and Gore (10,615) is second there, too.

My point today: After seeing younger backs like Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice stalled or stopped by suspensions this year… and knowing that other backs tend to slow down somewhere around the 1,500-carry mark or much earlier…

I am always struck that the 49ers have been able to count on Gore almost every game for his entire career, but especially from the start of the Jim Harbaugh era in 2011.

* I also do not mean to jinx Gore with this item. I presume I won’t. If he does get hurt in any way today, I’m sure I’ll hear about it.

Guys like Arian Foster, Reggie Bush, Ryan Matthews, Chris Johnson or LeGarrette Blount go in and out of lineups with injuries or other issues.
Guys like Darren McFadden can never really get going.

Guys like Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice have this year run into major problems.

And… guys like Gore and Lynch are incredibly valuable. I would also say: Very tricky to replace, and I believe both teams are considering that for 2015.

Let’s just go through Gore and his contemporaries (backs who have been major producers from 2011 on) and compare the consistency–the 49ers have been able to count on Gore for EVERY GAME for three-plus years and among elite RBs, only Marshawn Lynch is close to that…

--Frank Gore since the start of 2011 (which was his seventh NFL season, when he was 28): Played in 58 of his team’s 58 regular-season games, with 974 carries. Will play today. #2 among active rushers in career yards.

–Marshawn Lynch since the start of 2011 (his fifth NFL season, when he was 25): Played in 57 of his team’s 58 regular-season games, with 1,078 carries. Will play today. #6 among active rushers in career yards.

–Matt Forte since the start of 2011 (his fourth NFL season, when he was 26): Played 53 of his team’s 58 regular-season games, with 913 carries. Will play today. #8.

–LeSean McCoy since the start of 2011 (his third NFL season, when he was 23): Played 53 of his team’s 58 regular-season games, with 983 carries. Will play today. #11.

–Steven Jackson since the start of 2011 (his eighth NFL season, when he was 27): Played in 53 of his team’s 58 regular-season games, with 803 carries. Will play today. #1.

–Reggie Bush since the start of 2011 (his sixth NFL season, when he was 26): Played in 52 of his team’s 58 regular-season games, with 719 carries. Will not play today. #16.

–Arian Foster since the start of 2011 (his third NFL season, when he was 25): Played in 45 of his team’s 58 regular-season games, with 911 carries. Not expected to play today. #14.

–Darren McFadden since the start of 2011 (his fourth NFL season, when he was 24): Played in 40 of his team’s 59 regular-season games, with 568 carries. Already played Thursday. #22.

–Adrian Peterson since the start of 2011 (his fifth NFL season, when he was 26): Played 43 of his team’s 58 regular-season games, with 856 carries. Currently suspended. #3.

–Ray Rice since the start of 2011 (his fourth NFL season, when he was 24): Played in 47 of his team’s 58 regular-season games, with 762 carries. Currently suspended and not on a team–had played in 47/48 until this season’s suspension. #12.

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Frank Gore aware time with 49ers could be running out

Frank Gore, at age 31, appears to understand that his time in San Francisco is nearing its end.

He's done a lot of great things for the 49ers over the years. He's been a downhill, hard-nosed bruiser that has been able to keep up his production despite hearing that he's becoming an aging running back in the NFL. However, he's in the final year of his contract. It'll be tough for the 49ers to bring back Gore based on his age, and how that projects with running backs in this league.

"I’d love to be back here but they got younger guys,” Gore said on The Jim Rome Show. “You know how they feel about running backs. That’s why each week I go out to play for my team and to play for myself, and also to show other teams I can still be Frank Gore.”

Those younger guys are Carlos Hyde (23 years old), Alfonso Smith (27) and Kendall Hunter (26). Hyde appears to be the back of the future with Hunter being an ideal change-of-pace runner, though he'll be coming off an ACL tear sustained at the beginning of this past training camp.

Gore is still on pace for 1,000 yards this year, which he's accomplished in every NFL season he's played in except two. It would be a shame to see him leave San Francisco after this season, but that's the way it works in the NFL sometimes.

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Frank Gore: Players don’t think about friction between Harbaugh and team

There have been reports about 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh losing the locker room this season, but he doesn’t appear to be at risk of losing the portion of it that contains running back Frank Gore.

During an appearance on The Jim Rome Show, Gore said that Harbaugh is a winner and wondered how anyone wouldn’t respect the success that Harbaugh has had since taking on the Job in 2011. He also said that the players on the team aren’t paying any attention to what may or may not be going on between Harbaugh and the front office.

“We don’t even think about it,” Gore said. “As long as we practice, he can prepare us for Sunday, and hopefully we get a win, that’s all we’re about over here.”

Gore also said that he knows there’s a chance he won’t be back with the 49ers in 2015 whether Harbaugh is there or not. His contract is up after this year and he’s on the wrong side of 30 for a running back, but what once looked like a loaded depth chart of young backs behind him is a lot thinner with Kendall Hunter hurt, Marcus Lattimore retired and LaMichael James in Miami. If the price is right, another year of Gore and Carlos Hyde with Hyde seeing more action might end up working out for the 49ers.

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Frank Gore wants to play in 2015, with 49ers or somebody else

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Frank Gore surpassed Thomas Jones and Jamal Lewis on Sunday to move into No. 22 on the NFL’s all-time career rushing list.

But Gore took particular delight in the accomplishments of one of his teammates because he is in a similar position with an uncertain future.

Gore celebrated wildly with wide receiver Michael Crabtree after he turned a short post pattern into a 48-yard touchdown to open the second half. It was the 49ers’ only touchdown in their 16-10 victory over the New York Giants.

“I was happy for him, man,” Gore said of Crabtree. “I know he’d been frustrated. I’m very happy for him. But, you know, he came to play. Like we told each other, whatever’s meant to happen for us, it’s going to happen.”

Crabtree had three receptions for a season-high 85 yards. He ranks 45th in the NFL with 509 receiving yards this season.

“And I know it’s a contract year for him, and I want the best for him because he’s a great player,” Gore said. “I know the stats. He might not have the stats. But for me, and knowing football, he’s a top receiver in my book.”

Gore, of course, has been a top running back for the past decade. With 10,615 yards, Gore is closing in on becoming a top-20 all-time rusher. Next on the list are Ricky Watters (10,643) and Warrick Dunn (10,967) at Nos. 21 and 22, respectively.

Gore, 31, is in the final year of a contract extension he signed in 2011 that pays him an average annual salary of $6.5 million. He is setting out to prove that he is capable of being a productive player for a bit longer.

“I feel great and I know it’s a contract year for me,” Gore said. “I still love the game and I feel great and I still want to play the game. I feel like I’m still playing at a high level and you know I’m just coming out here week to week.

"And if I won’t be back here, then I’ll show the other teams what I can do.

“But I want to be back here.”

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Frank Gore totals 114 yards in Week 11 win

49ers running back Frank Gore rushed for a team-high 95 yards on 19 carries during a 16-10 win Week 11 at N.Y. Giants. He added two catches for 19 yards to finish with 114 total yards in the win.

Gore came close to his first 100-yard rushing performance in five games. He still has totaled more than 100 rushing yards just twice this season, with his last 100-yard game coming in Week 5.

The veteran running back did lose a fumble in Sunday's win on the opening drive, which led to a 19-yard touchdown catch by Giants tight end Larry Donnell. The 49ers are back in action Week 12 vs. Washington.

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49ers find success feeding ball to Frank Gore

NEW ORLEANS -- It is no secret the San Francisco 49ers have more success when they feed the ball to workhorse running back Frank Gore, as they did early and often in their eventual 27-24 overtime victory over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

The question, then, is why does it take the Niners so long to figure this out?

“Today was a must win,” said Gore, who had 57 of his 81 rushing yards in the first half, including a 4-yard rushing touchdown that was his first score on the ground since Week 2. He had 23 carries.

“The way we played, with me running the ball a lot, showed that’s the way we can rush the ball. As long as we can establish the running game and stay on the field, we’ll be fine.”

The 49ers’ 144 rushing yards were a season high on the road.

And, per ESPN Stats & Information, the Niners’ 5.4 rush efficiency marked the first time this season they had a positive rating. They are 20-3-1 (.854) under coach Jim Harbaugh when they post a positive rush efficiency (the NFL average is a .509 winning percentage in such situations), 21-12 (.636) when the rush offense has a negative efficiency (the NFL average then is a .492 winning percentage).

“Our mindset was, 'We’ve got to win,'” said quarterback Colin Kaepernick. “And to do that we had to get the running game going. Our offensive line was doing great blocking and they were running great and we just stuck with it.”

The 49ers’ record improved to 38-7-1 when Gore has at least 20 carries in a game. Gore also eclipsed Eddie George and Tiki Barber for 24th on the NFL’s all-time rushing list with 10,520 career yards. Thomas Jones (10,591 yards) and Jamal Lewis (10,607) are next on the list.

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Frank Gore nursing hip injury

Running back Frank Gore (hip) was among the 49ers who were limited. Gore was observed getting his hip examined by doctors during Sunday’s game.

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Frank Gore: 'We're going to the playoffs'

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- It was not quite Joe Namath lounging poolside in South Beach, but Frank Gore did take a page from Broadway Joe.

OK, maybe a liner note.

Gore, the San Francisco 49ers' workhorse running back who has become something of a forgotten man on offense of late, predicted the Niners' January plans.

"We're going to the playoffs," Gore said in the team's locker room on Wednesday.

Now, before you start Googling Jim Mora and playing clips on YouTube, put Gore in context.

He was not bragging or boasting. How could he with the 49ers riding a two-game losing streak and heading to New Orleans at just 4-4, three games behind the NFC West-leading Arizona Cardinals and a game back of the Seattle Seahawks?

Rather, this was the calculated talk of a player whose team has played in three straight NFC title games ... even if the 49ers' offense seems so discombobulated at the moment.

"We're going to do it. We have great coaches, we have great guys. The last three years we've been spoiled. That's where we want to go ... the postseason. Once everybody takes care of their [individual] jobs, we have a great shot."

Many, though, think Gore is being under-utilized. And if Gore is among them, he's not saying. At least, not publicly.

"It's a team," he said. "We have great players all around. Receivers, backs, I just think as a group we have to do better, more consistent. It's always one player here or there."

Meaning, one player missing his assignment has a domino effect on the rest of the offense.

"In this league, that can't happen. You're not going to win games when everybody on offense isn't clicking together."

And you can guarantee that sentiment.

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Frank Gore held to 49 rushing yards in Week 9 loss

49ers running back Frank Gore managed just 49 yards on 14 carries in his team's 13-10 loss to the Rams in Week 9, adding one reception for nine yards while failing to reach the end zone.

Gore has been bottled up on the ground in recent weeks, failing to top 2.5 yards per carry in either of his previous two games before posting a 3.5 yards-per-carry mark in Week 9. Sunday's reception was also his first during the three-game stretch, with two of those games coming against the Rams. He'll attempt to deliver his first big performance in more than a month when he faces the Saints in New Orleans in Week 10.

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Frank Gore on 49ers offense: ‘We’ve just got to make our minds up, do what we feel we’re good at’

An hour after the 49ers’ 13-10 upset loss to the Rams, Frank Gore still had not moved from the seat in front of his locker. He stood up briefly to address the media, clearly despondent but certainly willing to express his thoughts on the offense’s jumbled state.

“We’ve just got to make our minds up, do what we feel we’re good at and go do it,” Gore said.

Without further prompting, Gore spoke in defense of offensive coordinator Greg Roman, who’s play calls were the subject of scrutiny after the 49ers failed to score from the doorstep of the Rams’ end zone.

“I still think we have a good coordinator (in Greg Roman). I still believe in our coordinator,” Gore said. “He’s been successful since he’s been here.

“We’ve just, as players, have got to look ourselves in the mirror. When he makes a call, we’ve got to do it. I wouldn’t put it on him. It’s also us. I feel he put us in good situations.

“We’re just too up and down.”

Gore was so down in the dumps that defensive line coach Jim Tomsula sat down next to him after the interview and offered his counsel.

Gore finished with 14 carries for 49 yards. Carlos Hyde had only two carries, for 17 yards.

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick had five carries for 14 yards, including the fateful final one in which officials ruled he lost a fumble as he tried sneaking over center Marcus Martin and across the goal line with two seconds remaining.

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Frank Gore held in check by Broncos

Frank Gore was held to 20 yards on nine carries in the 49ers' Week 7 loss to the Broncos.

Gore was held in check by the Broncos run defense and couldn't get anything going behind an offensive line that was missing three starters. The 49ers abandoned the run in the second half, with Carlos Hyde getting the majority of work over Gore late in the game. Gore is averaging just 4.1 YPC and has one touchdown in seven games. The 49ers could look to get Hyde more involved coming out of their Week 8 bye.

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Frank Gore said 49ers never told him in offseason his spot was in jeopardy

Running back Frank Gore isn’t sure where he’ll be next year for his 11th season in the NFL. But returning to the 49ers for this season was never in question, he said Thursday.

A NFL Network report before Monday night’s win at St. Louis claimed that the 49ers approached Gore in the offseason and told him his roster spot was in jeopardy. General manager Trent Baalke said before kickoff that was “not true,” and Gore said the same Thursday at his locker.

Gore is as curious as anyone if the 49ers will attempt to re-sign him, and he’s all for it in his quest to win his first Super Bowl ring, and the 49ers’ first since 20 years ago.

As much as Gore thrives on being an offensive catalyst, he wasn’t complaining how the 49ers’ pass-oriented attack beat the Rams 31-17 behind Colin Kaepernick’s 343 yards.

“I’m happy with that game,” Gore said. “Now we get to see how (the Broncos) play us.”

A stronger passing threat would seem to benefit Gore, who was coming off back-to-back 100-yard rushing games before Monday’s 38-yard effort on 16 carries.

Gore said he feels “great” and believed coaches were being smart in the fourth quarter by resting him in favor of Carlos Hyde, who failed to score despite three consecutive runs from within the Rams’ 2-yard line.

Gore returned on the 49ers’ next series and also failed to convert a fourth-and-1 run from the Rams 34. “They stopped it and played good defense,” Gore said. “Whenever you can’t get yards, you get (upset).”

The more yards Gore can gain Sunday night, the longer that will keep Peyton Manning & Co. off the field. Gore isn’t campaigning for a marquee role, however.
“We all have to play well as a group,” Gore said. “Whoever’s number is called, they’ve got to make plays.”

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49ers GM Says No Truth To Frank Gore Report of His Roster Spot In Jeopardy

General manager Trent Baalke said there is "no truth" to an NFL Network report Monday that the 49ers approached Frank Gore in the offseason and told him his roster spot was in jeopardy.

Gore, the 49ers' all-time leading rusher, is earning close to $6 million in the final year of his contract. Baalke was incredulous at the notion the 49ers wouldn't have brought Gore back for this season, his 10th.

The 49ers are not negotiating a possible extension with Gore, Baalke said, adding that any such deal wouldn't happen until after the season. Gore had 16 carries for 38 yards, his second-lowest total this season behind a six-carry, 10-yard outing at Arizona.

Gore entered Monday night's game at St. Louis as the NFL's 11th-leading rusher (365 yards), and he was coming off consecutive 100-yard rushing games for the first time since 2011. He's finished in the top 10 each year since Harbaugh arrived as coach in 2011.

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49ers don't want to wear out Frank Gore

If you've sat next to a San Francisco 49ers fan for any game this season, you're likely to have heard "just give the ball to Frank" muttered or shouted more than once.

Frank Gore's carries have gone up the past two weeks -- 24 and 18, respectively -- since a low of six in a Week 3 loss. But the 31-year-old running back has carried the ball just 77 times for 365 yards through the first five weeks. It's the second-fewest carries through five games in Gore's career (in 2009, he had 65 but was dealing with an ankle injury).

The reduction in carries is something offensive coordinator Greg Roman said was planned entering the season.

"We don't want to just ride that stallion all day, every day," Roman said, per CSN Bay Area. "There's a point of diminishing returns at some point. That's almost true for any player at that position. Who gets hit more than running backs?"

Carlos Hyde has looked solid rushing for 132 yards this season, and the 49ers' staff has said on multiple occasions that they trust him in any situation.
The issue hasn't been how many snaps one back has gotten over the other; The question many 49ers fans have asked is why the team is going to the air with more regularity when the ground game is clearly working.

Both Gore and Hyde have a fantastic matchup Monday night against a St. Louis Rams run defense allowing 152.5 rushing yards per game (tied for 29th in the NFL) and has given up 21 running plays of 10-plus yards (tied for most in the league).

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Rams coach Fisher: Gore 'nerve center' of 49ers offense

Running back Frank Gore’s future with the 49ers is not determined after this season.

But his present is pretty clear to St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher.

“He’s kind of the nerve center of that offense,” Fisher said Thursday on a conference call with Bay Area reporters. “It revolves around him.”

Gore, 31, the 49ers’ all-time leading rusher, is just 109 yards away from Eddie George for No. 25 on the NFL rushing list.

He’ll have his opportunity for a third consecutive 100-yard rushing day on Monday night against the Rams.

“He’s an outstanding runner,” Fisher said. “There’s not been any drop off. He started this year like he finished last year. He’s the same runner. He does very well without the ball. He’s really good in protection.

“(He’s an) unselfish player, hard to defend.”

After a slow start, Gore ranks No. 5 in the NFL this season with 365 yards on 77 rushing attempts. He is averaging 4.7 yards per carry.

Gore’s production has been at the center of the 49ers’ two-game win streak, coming against Philadelphia and Kansas City.

The 49ers have gotten back to their time-test formula of relying on Gore and the run game.

"A few weeks ago when there was a lot of no-back passing and things like that was effective for them against Arizona,” Fisher said. “But the run game and the play-action game keeps you ahead of the sticks and keeps your third downs manageable in that 2- to 6-(yard) range, and Kap’s (Colin Kaepernick) looked good at it.

"He’s going to convert those and keep the offense on the field.”

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Frank Gore continues climb up rushing leaderboard

The San Francisco 49ers put together another strong ground performance on Sunday, defeating the Kansas City Chiefs thanks in large part to Frank Gore's 107 yard performance. This game marked Gore's 37th 100-yard performance, and moved him up to 10,332 career yards. He moved past Ottis Anderson into 26th place on the all time rushing list. Next up in Gore's sights are No. 25 Eddie George (10,441) and No. 24 Tiki Barber (10,449). 118 yards against the Rams would move Gore past both backs.

What is particularly interesting this season is that Gore is currently ranked fifth in the NFL in rushing, with 365 yards. Alfred Morris could have moved past him, but a poor effort against the Seattle Seahawks leaves him at No. 6. Rashad Jennings is currently fourth with 396 yards, and he will miss at least a couple games with an MCL sprain. Gore has some solid career numbers against the St. Louis Rams, averaging 4.43 yards per carry. That is just below his career 4.56 yards per carry.

The 49ers are now 13-0 under Jim Harbaugh in games in which Frank Gore surpasses 100 yards. They can win when he doesn't surpass 100 yards, but generally speaking they are in a great position when Gore is slicing and dicing defenses. Aside from Week 3's 6 carry, 10 yard performance, Gore has surpassed 4.0 yards per carry in each game. His low was 4.1 in the opener, but since he averaged 4.8 in Week 2, 5.0 in Week 4 and 5.9 in Week 5. Gore averaged 4.1 yards per carry last season, but has bounced back to 4.7 this year.

Gore spoke briefly with the media after the game, joining Colin Kaepernick at the interview podium. He had a great line when asked about the team's second half domination on the ground. The 49ers had 13 carries for 65 yards in the first half, and then 27 carries for 106 yards in the second half. Gore had 70 of those second half yards.

Matt Barrows made a good point in his film review. After an 8-yard run put Gore over 100 yards, he apparently got up kind of slow. The 49ers brought in Carlos Hyde for the next two runs, before Kap ran and threw an incomplete pass to end that final "full" drive (kneel-downs after that). Hyde finished with a solid 43 yards on 10 carries, marking his best performance since 50 yards in Week 1. After not giving him much work in Weeks 2 and 3 (7 total carries), the team has given him ten carries in each of the last two games.

The 49ers can potentially start working Marcus Lattimore into the mix as well next week, but for now, they are in good shape with their two-headed running back monster. There is no word on how quickly Lattimore will be brought back into the mix this season, but it creates some intriguing possibilities for an already impressive 49ers ground game.

Frank, maybe you can answer this? Big difference then last week, some unquestionable and some questionable offensive penalties with hand placement in some blocks and what not. Anything significant that changed this week? Anything you guys practiced this week, as far as techniques with that, to avoid those?
Gore: "No, we didn't, we didn't."

Frank, what does it mean to you to be able to dominate a second half on the ground like that? What does it say about this team?
Gore: "We some dogs. Our o-line, they played great. We have to give it up to them. Like I said, 49er football, do whatever it takes. We knew that we had to eat up the clock and we did. Me and Carlos did a great job on the ground, and like I said earlier, Kap did a great job in the air. So, we just played great team ball."

Frank, obviously, if you guys had the answer you'd fix it, but can you put your finger on anything yet as far as why you guys slow down inside the red zone?
Gore: "I can't answer that. We have to get better. Watch the tape and clean up whatever it is. We just have to get better."

You're a Miami guy, but how hot was it out there?
Gore: "Oh man, it was hot, but I like it like that though. I like it like that."

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Frank Gore goes over 100 yards for second straight game

49ers running back Frank Gore hammered his way to a second straight 100-yard rushing game, piling up 107 yards on 18 carries in the win over the Chiefs. These were Gore's first back-to-back 100-yard efforts since he strung five together in 2011.

Gore, 31, is the oldest 49er to rush for 100 yards in two straight games since 1960. Gore added a 1-yard reception.

Gore, who's averaging 4.7 yards per carry, visits the Rams in Week 6 on Monday Night Football.

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Frank Gore Records Longest Reception of Career

Playing in the 136th regular-season game of his career, San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore recorded a career-long 55-yard reception in Sunday's 26-21 win over the Philadelphia Eagles, per ESPN Stats & Info.

Gore, whose previous career-long reception of 48 yards came in a 2009 game against the Detroit Lions, led the 49ers to a comeback victory in a contest that saw the Eagles score all three of their touchdowns on defense or special teams.

The 31-year-old running back piled up 119 yards on 24 carries, and he made sure to get the most out of his only catch.

With the Niners down 7-3 at their own 45-yard line, Gore found himself wide open on the right side of the field on the first play of the second quarter. 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick had scrambled off to the left side of the field, yet somehow had the awareness to throw across his body to the uncovered Gore.

The veteran running back caught the pass around Philadelphia's 43-yard line, then quickly turned upfield for the right sideline. After stiff-arming Eagles safety Earl Wolff around the 25-yard line, Gore cruised into the end zone for the longest passing play of his illustrious career.

The touchdown catch, No. 11 of his career, was just Gore's second since the beginning of the 2011 season. Once used as a major threat in the passing game, Gore has mostly focused on running the ball since head coach Jim Harbaugh's arrival in San Francisco.

However, as we saw Sunday, the veteran is still a more than capable receiver when needed.

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Frank Gore finds Fountain of Youth, piles up 174 yards

After getting just six carries and gaining 10 yards Week 3, 49ers running back Frank Gore busted out in Sunday's win over the Eagles. The 31-year-old's first carry went for 15 yards, and he had 59 yards on 10 carries by halftime.

Gore finished with 119 yards on 24 totes, both easily season bests. His 28-yard jaunt in the third quarter represented another season high. It was Gore's first 100-yard rushing game since Dec. 8 of last year against Seattle.

Early in the second quarter, Gore got wide open in the right flat and Colin Kaepernick hit him from all the way across the field. Gore did the rest, shoving safety Earl Wolff out of the way for a career-long 55-yard touchdown catch. It was his only catch on two targets.

Gore takes on the Chiefs in Week 5.

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GIF: Frank Gore makes 55 yard touchdown reception

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49ers go back to what works: Feeding Frank Gore

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The real Frank Gore is back, and with him, the real San Francisco 49ers offense.

A week after a baffling game plan in a loss to the Arizona Cardinals that resulted in just six rushes for 10 yards for Gore, the 49ers looked like themselves again, with an offense powered by their 31-year-old running back.

San Francisco might have invested big in the passing game, with a massive contract extension for quarterback Colin Kaepernick, a trade to acquire veteran receiver Stevie Johnson from Buffalo, and the addition of veteran Brandon Lloyd to join Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin, but it is clear that Gore remains the heart of the 49ers' offense, and they aren't going to win much without him.

Even Sunday, it took until the 49ers' second possession to get back to Gore. On that drive, the second play went to Gore, who ripped off a 15-yard run, just a preview of the type of day that was to come. By the time the 49ers closed out their 26-21 win against the Philadelphia Eagles, Gore had 119 rushing yards on 24 carries — about 5 yards per attempt — and another 55 receiving yards, all of them on perhaps the wildest touchdown catch of his career.

No, Gore certainly wasn't the intended target for Kaepernick after the quarterback scrambled to his left and rolled way out of the pocket. Gore, over on the right side of the field, was so far out of the play that coach Jim Harbaugh had lost sight of him. Harbaugh had no idea what Kaepernick saw as the quarterback heaved the ball across his body for a throw that covered about 30 horizontal yards.

But there was Gore, wide open, and then sprinting past the Eagles secondary for his first touchdown of the year.

"He broke the tackle and got into the end zone," Kaepernick said. "Putting the ball in 21's hands is a good thing."

That might be the truest thing Kaepernick has said all season.

Yet for the 49ers to be successful, it won't be because of Gore's clutch catches, it will be through his tough running, just as it has been so often over the past eight years.

"That was our mindset, just getting him back on the ball and getting him touches, making sure we controlled the line of scrimmage," Boldin said.

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Frank Gore eager to help 49ers, even if it means fewer touches

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Through head coaching changes and quarterback switches, enduring miserable seasons and bitter Super Bowl disappointment, Frank Gore has been the constant in the San Francisco 49ers offense for eight years.

Multi-talented quarterback Colin Kaepernick may have given the Niners a new dimension when he became their starter nearly two years ago. But until recently, there had been little doubt to the offensive identity. The 49ers were a power running team reliant on Gore.

Perhaps that is why it was so stunning to see a healthy Gore relegated to the sideline for so much of last Sunday's loss to the Arizona Cardinals as the Niners frequently lined up with four, and even five, wide receivers. Gore had just 10 yards on six carries and played in just half of the team's 64 offensive plays after playing nearly 70% of the snaps in the first two games. And after averaging 17 carries per game from 2011-2013, during which he played in every game, Gore has just 35 total carries in the first three weeks.

Kaepernick admitted this week it was a little bit odd to see Gore absent from the huddle so often.

"But that was the game plan we had going in," Kaepernick said. "He's going to do whatever it takes to help this team win."

San Francisco's spread scheme worked well enough early against the Cardinals — Kaepernick led two 80-yard touchdown drives while mostly running an up-tempo, no-huddle offense — that it was fair to wonder if the 49ers were changing their identity. And if so, might Gore soon be phased out of the offense?

"I wouldn't categorize it," head coach Jim Harbaugh said. "In terms of identity, we want to be about moving the ball, picking up first points, scoring points, scoring touchdowns."

The problem for the offense has been doing that consistently, regardless of the game plan. San Francisco has led at halftime of each of its first three games but has yet to score a second-half touchdown. The Niners have been outscored 52-3 after intermission, holding on to beat the Dallas Cowboys in Week 1 before blowing leads to the Chicago Bears and Cardinals.

And that, more than the decreased workload, was what had Gore so grumpy last Sunday. But his smile was back this week, and he doesn't seem to be taking his lack of touches personally.

"I just feel that, for me, whatever works, I'm with it. If it's passing, it's passing, let's pass the ball. If it's running it, we run," Gore said. "I'm willing to do whatever it takes to win, and if we have to go out there and do spread again, I'm with it. That's what sort of player I am. I just want to win."

So which version of the Niners will show up Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles? There are signs San Francisco could revert to a power game if both tight end Vernon Davis, who sat out last week with an injury, and right tackle Anthony Davis (who has yet to play this season because of a bum hamstring) are cleared to return to the starting lineup. Both are critical pieces for a team that's thrived with a bruising, physical approach so frequently in recent years.

"We're a power team. I don't think there's ever a question about that," guard Alex Boone said. "Sometimes you have to change it up, you have to be able to mix it up. We should be able to get it done no matter what the play call."

Still, San Francisco is encouraged by their improvements in the passing game, even if it hasn't resulted in enough touchdowns yet. Kaepernick is completing 70% of his passes, and the Niners are happy to have their deepest wideout corps in years with Anquan Boldin and a healthy Michael Crabtree joined by offseason acquisitions Stevie Johnson and Brandon Lloyd.

"We have a lot of great receivers," Kaepernick said. "It's going to depend on mismatches."

And maybe some Gore.

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Frank Gore: 'I Just Want to Win'

Frank Gore could hardly conduct an interview following the San Francisco 49ers Week 3 road loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

Gore spoke for a few minutes and then asked politely if he could have time for reflection.

Days later, Gore had another opportunity to speak with the media about what was a challenging game for the 10-year pro: a six-carry performance against the Cardinals.

“I was frustrated,” Gore said on Wednesday. “If we would have got the win, I’m happy, you know?”

Gore wasn’t the focal point of the team’s offensive game plan for the Cardinals. Instead, San Francisco elected to attack Arizona’s secondary.

“We felt like it was a personnel group that would help us in the game,” Jim Harbaugh said. “And we wanted to use it.”

The 49ers had a 23-37 run-to-pass ratio against the Cardinals.

Gore, who has 35 carries for 139 rushing yards and one touchdown on the year, said he wasn’t discouraged by the game plan. He understood it.

“Whatever works, I’m with it,” said Gore, who is averaging 4 yards per carry this season. “If it’s passing, it’s passing. We pass the ball. If it’s running, we run the ball.

“I’m willing to do whatever it takes to win and if we have to go out there and do the spread again, I’m with it. That’s just the type of player I am. I just want to win.”

Gore’s backfield mate, starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick, said the 49ers will continue to attack a defense by highlighting the offense’s best matchups.
That’s been the hallmark of a Harbaugh-coached team – San Francisco just hasn’t had the type of wide receiver help that they do in 2014.

So will Gore be used sparingly once again with the Philadelphia Eagles coming to town on Sunday?

That will be discovered in a matter of days.

The 49ers running attack could be in line for reinforcements. Right tackle Anthony Davis returned to practice for the first time this season in a limited role. Tight end Vernon Davis also was limited in practice, a good sign that he’s improved from the ankle injury that kept him sidelined against Arizona.

Gore said the key this week is to “finish” the game out. After back-to-back losses, his mindset appears to be in a good place.

Harbaugh vouched for it.

“I would see no reason why he wouldn’t be confident in that regard,” the coach said.

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Frank Gore explains postgame mood

After he fielded a series of questions about his mood after Sunday’s loss at Arizona, Frank Gore walked away from the media scrum with a faux snarl.

“I’m mad. I’m mad,” the 49ers running back said before breaking into a smile.

Three days after Gore, visibly upset, had to cut an interview short after he had a puny role in a 23-14 defeat, he said his frustration stemmed from the loss, not his lack of usage. Gore had 10 yards on six carries, no receptions and played 32 of 64 offensive snaps. His six carries matched his lowest total in a game he’s finished since he became a starter in 2006.

“For me, I just feel that whatever works, I’m with it,” Gore said. “If it’s passing, it’s passing. You pass the ball. If it’s running, you run. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to win. If we’ve got to go out there and do spread again, I’m with it. That’s what I’m type of player I am. I just want to win.”

And the fact that the 49ers lost, Gore said, explained his postgame mood.

“I was frustrated,” he said. “If we would have won, I’m happy.”

Gore was happy to break this news: right tackle Anthony Davis will return for Sunday’s game against the visiting Eagles after he missed the first three weeks with a hamstring injury. Davis has been replaced by Jonathan Martin in the starting lineup.

“I think he’s been doing a pretty good job,” Gore said of Martin. “It’s NFL ball: You win some, you lose some. I think it’s good he got an opportunity to play. Now we’ve got (Davis) back … Now we know that if something happens up front again, we know (Martin) can step in.”

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Greg Roman Explains Frank Gore's Limited Carries

In Sunday’s loss to the Arizona Cardinals, Frank Gore carried the ball six times for 10 yards. Neither total stacked up to what the veteran running back is used to tallying.

According to offensive coordinator Greg Roman, however, the limited touches were a result of the San Francisco 49ers game plan – at least at first.

The team hoped to utilize its depth at wide receiver early on to set up the ground game in the second half.

“I think Frank knew going into the game, we kind of outlined our game plan that we were going to start the game out a certain way and see how it went,” Roman said Tuesday on KNBR.

The 49ers began Sunday by deploying an up-tempo, no-huddle offense. San Francisco used a five-wide formation, which essentially left quarterback Colin Kaepernick as the lone running threat out of the backfield.

The surprise aerial attack helped stake the team a 14-6 halftime advantage, but the second half of the 49ers game plan went awry when the Cardinals took the lead midway through the third quarter.

“In a perfect world, you're letting Frank and the offensive line take over the game at the end of the game,” Roman said,  “but we weren't in that situation, so we were never really able to transition into that.”

Gore’s six carries tied for his fewest since Nov. 29, 2010 – also against the Cardinals – when he recorded five rushes. His 10 total yards were his fewest since Jan. 1, 2012, when he had nine yards on seven carries versus the St. Louis Rams.

Despite Gore’s smaller numbers on Sunday, Roman reiterated the team’s commitment to the running game and its stalwart tailback. The coach complimented Gore’s focus on winning and letting the rest take care of itself.

“Frank is the ultimate pro, and he's the ultimate team guy,” Roman said. “He wants to win, and he wants to play in the big games in January and February. So I think he totally understood what we were doing.”

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Frank Gore at a loss for words about loss, and his role

The 49ers were without tight end Vernon Davis because of injury. But they were apparently without running back Frank Gore by decision.

Gore carried the ball just six times for 10 yards in Sunday’s loss to the Cardinals, as the 49ers went to more and more multiple-receiver formations.

“We did what the defense gave us,” Gore said, via Matt Maiocco of, saying he didn’t know that would be the plan.

Then after less than a minute of answering questions, Gore said: “I’m sorry, I can’t talk right now.”

The 49ers have been outscored 52-3 in the second halves of games this season, the time when they’d normally feed the ball to Gore and he’d keep chains and clocks moving. Part of the problem was the lack of tight ends Davis and Vance McDonald, which kept them out their preferred personnel packages.

But after drafting young backs to eventually replace him for years, the 49ers showed what could be a sign that Gore’s role might not be what it used to be.

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Frank Gore: 'I can't talk right now'

Amid a stunned and silent locker room, running back Frank Gore, the 49ers’ longest-tenured position player, had little to say after the loss. He paused for up to 10 seconds between questions before offering no answers. Finally, he waved off the media horde and said, "I can’t talk right now. Sorry." Then he buried his head in his hands. Gore had 10 yards rushing on six carries, and rookie Carlos Hyde carried the ball three times for 13 yards, including a 6-yard touchdown.

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Comments EXCLUSIVE Preview of Article Running TOMORROW on the 2001 Hurricanes

A message from Aaron Torres of

“They’re the greatest team of all-time.”

It’s a statement we often hear about the 2001 Miami Hurricanes, both by fans, and the media members who cover college football as well.

But after hearing it earlier this year, a light-bulb went off in my head: Just about everyone seems to have an opinion the 2001 ‘Canes, except Miami’s former players and coaches themselves.

And from there, another thought immediately popped into my head: What if I tracked down as many Hurricanes players and coaches from that 2001 season as I could, interviewed them, and asked what they thought about their team, and where they rank in college football history.

How awesome would that be?

Well, six months later, the answer was “spectacular” and after collecting interviews with roughly 50 former players and coaches, an article, the definitive article on the greatest team in the history of college football will run on on Wednesday.

If you’re a ‘Canes fan (which I have to imagine you are if you’re reading this website), I can promise you that you can enjoy the article.

But here’s the thing: During the process of reporting the article, I learned that I wasn’t the only one who shared the same passion for the 2001 ‘Canes. As it turned out, one of the former players I interviewed, Najeh Davenport, also shared that passion, and like me wanted to tell the world his team’s story. Najeh recently released a documentary about the team, titled ‘The U: Reloaded’ which premiered last month. Through Najeh, I met his business partner Platon, who runs things here at

And it was through my friendship with Platon, that we’ve decided to give Miami fans a treat. Before the article runs in full on Wednesday, Platon was nice enough to offer up his space here on, to run an excerpt. It’s a treat for all you diehard ‘Canes fans, and proCanes is the only place that you can read this exclusive excerpt.

Of course the article will still run in its entirety Wednesday, and if you enjoy what you read here, be sure to check out the article on You can also follow on Twitter @Aaron_Torres, where I’ll post the link once it goes live.

In the meantime, enjoy this excerpt from the article….

In the excerpt, we pick things up shortly after Larry Coker was hired as head coach, as the team prepared for the 2001 season.

As you’ll learn however, it really didn’t matter who the Hurricanes had hired as head coach. The team was not going to be denied the title that had eluded them the year before.

Again, enjoy and be sure to look for the full article on Wednesday.

The final, and arguably most important piece to the 2001 team was set: Miami had its head coach.

Now it was time to get to work. A team that had been denied a shot at a National Championship the season before, was not going to allow that to happen again.

Joaquin Gonzalez (senior, offensive tackle): The one thing I remember going into 2001 was, Larry Coker and his staff, as well as the players decided that we weren’t going to leave the decision on who plays for the championship on anyone else’s plate but our own. 

Brett Romberg (junior, center): (Our mindset was) ‘This year it ain’t gonna be decided on a poll or whatever kind of computer analysis.’ We were worked up, ready to get back at it.

Maurice Sikes (sophomore, safety): If you’re going to say you’re a champion, earn it. Don’t leave it to a voter; don’t leave it to anything to chance.’

D.J. Williams (sophomore, linebacker): It was great to be there with Butch, but when he left our plan didn’t change.

Brett Romberg (junior, center): We were anxious to get back at it. We didn’t want downtime. Usually you’re excited to get back home, brag ‘We just won the Sugar Bowl’ but we didn’t want that. We were like, ‘Let’s get back in the weight room, and get after it.

Ed Reed (senior, safety): When we got back to Miami to start spring football … my God. That spring before that National Championship year, those off-season workouts, it was like no other in the world.

Andreu Swasey (strength and conditioning coach): That was our DNA (to work hard). That is part of our system. It wasn’t talent-driven, it was work-ethic driven.

Mike Rumph (senior, cornerback): I don’t feel like we get ever get credit for our work ethic. I played six years in the NFL and the hardest I ever worked was at Miami. Those summers were treacherous.

Frank Gore (freshman, running back): My first day I get there, we were doing agilities with the linebackers; I’m competing with Chris Campbell, God rest his soul, and I’m like ‘Man, I think I made the wrong decision.’ I’m the top (high school) running back, how is a linebacker beating me in agilities?

Clinton Portis (junior, running back): We competed in everything! We all wanted to be the fastest player, we all wanted to be the best basketball player, we all wanted to be the highest jumper, we all wanted to be the best at everything we did.

Antrel Rolle (freshman, cornerback): The way we practiced, it was insane. I’ll be honest with you, it was literally insane. You would think that we did not like each other, on the field, off the field.

Mike Rumph (senior, cornerback): It was just a machine. It was a machine but we were just so afraid to have failure.

Curtis Johnson (wide receivers coach): Andreu Swasey said this all the time: The players were always around. They were always around us, always around the office. It’d be Friday night, Saturday morning, they’d be around, they’d want to want watch more film, and we couldn’t get rid of these guys for nothing. Their whole lives revolved around this little football team.

Mark Stoops (defensive backs coach): Soon after I was hired by Larry (as defensive backs coach in 2001) I was in my office working on a Saturday and I saw one of my players come by, then I saw another one. Over the course of the morning several guys stopped up and were talking. And I thought it was odd. I asked one of them, ‘What are you doing here on a Saturday morning?’ And one of them just looked at me and tilted his head and was like ‘Coach, this is just what we do.’

Mike Rumph (senior, cornerback): People didn’t see the Saturdays where we met up as a team (in the off-season). Or the meetings we’d have 6 in the morning, where there were no coaches there.

Brett Romberg (junior, center): Saturday morning at 8:00 a.m., no matter how hung-over you were, you are in the field.

Mark Stoops (defensive backs coach): Over the course of the morning several guys stopped up and were talking. And I thought it was odd. I asked one of them, ‘What are you doing here on a Saturday morning?’ And one of them just looked at me and tilted his head and was like ‘Coach, this is just what we do.’

Brett Romberg (junior, center): Granted, you didn’t have to be there. At any other school a guy might show up at 8:05 with his shoes untied or something. Not at Miami. No, if you didn’t show up at 7:55 ready to go, you got shunned. Nobody wants to talk to you, because you think you’re so much bigger than the group. There were never any egos.

Mark Stoops (defensive backs coach): They did seven-on-seven with each other, the o-line and d-line worked basically the whole year round. That’s just what they did; it was part of their culture… I was blown away by the player’s self-motivation and how great the leaders were there.

Don Soldinger (running backs coach): One time, Frank Gore called me at 3:30 a.m. to ask me about pass protections.

Frank Gore (freshman, running back): He said ‘If you need help, don’t be afraid to call.’ So I was studying my plays and I called him and told him to quiz me.

Andreu Swasey (strength and conditioning coach): Who stood out as leaders and workers from that group? Can I say ‘The team?’ I had so many guys.

Curtis Johnson (wide receivers coach): It started during 2000, but the players, they really policed themselves. We had no altercations, we had no nothing.

Ed Reed (senior, safety): We told coach, ‘If anything happens with the players on the team coach, we got it. Don’t you worry about it.’

D.J. Williams (sophomore, linebacker): As far as punishment, that was all done within the locker room.

Andreu Swasey (strength and conditioning coach): If you didn’t make your times, it wasn’t pretty for you. And I didn’t have anything to do with it! I did everything to help you, I might try to save you, but the rest of the guys would be like ‘Coach, you might not want to see this.’

Phillip Buchanon (junior, cornerback): The coaches aren’t gonna handle this. This is our locker room. We’re going to handle this.

Andreu Swasey (strength and conditioning coach): They handled their own discipline. So I’d start talking and Ed Reed would cut me off, like ‘I don’t mean any disrespect…’ then he’d handle the lecture for me. And I’m like ‘Damn, ok.’

Curtis Johnson (wide receivers coach): I remember, Sean Taylor was a freshman and I was watching him right at the beginning of two-a-days and Sean, he just didn’t run (as) fast (as he could) or something. And the coach went to get on him, and before the coach could get there Ed Reed just jumped on him; Sean was almost crying. It was the worst thing you could ever see, but the coaches didn’t have to do any of that, the players did it all. When that happens, I knew we were well on our way.

Najeh Davenport (senior, fullback): This may seem bad to say, but my senior year, Coach Coker was the head coach, Coach Chud was the offensive coordinator, but once we learned the system, that’s all she wrote.

Maurice Sikes (sophomore, safety): (Coker) knew how great of a team he had. He had been there with us. We had great leadership on our team, we had great coaches, great assistants, great starters, great back-ups. We knew what we had, and knew we didn’t need much tinkering.

Brett Romberg (junior, center): Butch Davis had done a great job steering that ship and doing a great job in building it, and all we needed was somebody to maintain the animal. Coker was the perfect fit.

Maurice Sikes (sophomore, safety): He had a very good understanding of the fact that he had a masterpiece. All he had to do was take it to the damn museum.

Najeh Davenport (senior, fullback): We were teaching each other, coaching each other, watching film together. We were destined to win the National Championship. 

Randy Shannon (defensive coordinator): I felt like we had a bunch of guys who had a common goal. They wanted to win a championship.
Aaron is a contributor at You can follow him on Twitter @Aaron_Torres, and be sure to check for the full article on Wednesday.

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Frank Gore gives 49ers 17-0 lead over Bears (GIF)

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Frank Gore still out to prove himself in his 10th season

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Frank Gore wants those around him to notice just how hard he’s running at age 31, seemingly as energetic as ever when everybody is beginning to question when he will slow down. Or break down.

Ask him how his body is holding up, how he feels, and Gore quickly offers a good-natured retort: “You tell me how I look.”

So far in 2014, no words are necessary.

The veteran San Francisco running back reached another milestone in Week 1, becoming the 29th player in NFL history to run for 10,000 yards — and just the 10th to accomplish the feat while playing for the same team for at least 10 seasons.

“Yeah, it’s crazy. I try not to think about,” Gore said of being a 30-something veteran. “I try to still be a young guy on the field. I just try to look better than the other guys, whoever stayed at 10 (years) or if they’re younger.”

Despite Gore’s youthful spirit, the 49ers still face a delicate balance between keeping him fresh and giving rookie Carlos Hyde chances.

Even with an heir apparent at the ready, Gore isn’t ready to say this season will be his last. There’s still so much he wants to prove, not to mention the unfinished business of winning a Super Bowl.

“I train hard,” Gore said. “I still love it. I’m still having fun with it.”

Gore produced his seventh 1,000-yard performance in nine NFL seasons last year, rushing for 1,128 yards and nine touchdowns — one off his career high set in 2009.

“He looks good, and he looks that way every year,” running backs coach Tom Rathman said. “It doesn’t surprise us. The bottom line is we’ve got to keep him at that throughout the season. He knows that. It’s hard to go through a whole season and take the pounding and not having help.

“Gosh, if anybody can do it, it would be Frank Gore. You love what you’re getting from him, you know what you’re getting from him.”

Gore passed late Hall of Famer Joe Perry to become the Niners all-time leading rusher in 2011.

The 49ers are likely to go with the hot hand and some combination of Gore and Hyde as they did in a season-opening win at Dallas. Gore’s first step, foot speed and explosiveness haven’t changed much.

Gore received more congratulatory messages than he could count.

“A lot of people were happy for me, especially the type of career I had, coming from college, with two ACLs, two shoulders and a hip (injury),” he said Wednesday.

He is always quick to credit the offensive line or key blocker Bruce Miller for his accomplishments and big gains.

“He always surprises me because you feel like with the years going on that he’ll come back and he’ll be banged up and tired and a little bit older. It just doesn’t happen,” Miller said. “He looks awesome. That’s Frank Gore, though, every year. I’ve never seen him do anything less.”

Gore realizes where he is at this stage of his career, and the need the 49ers have to groom young players behind him. He accepts that, yet it doesn’t change the fact he wants to be a part of every snap.

He still thinks back to all the chats he has had with mentors and fellow backs along the way, such as close friend Roger Craig, Marshall Faulk or LaDainian Tomlinson.

“I used to train with a lot of those guys when I was a young buck and they were around what I am now, like 10 years in,” Gore said. “I used to listen to them, if you want to be successful at your position you should take in from guys who did it, who’ve done it. That’s what I do. I’m really big on that.”

Now, he is providing that same kind of example for Hyde, and relishing the role.

Teammates and coaches have become accustomed to Gore going all out, even in the most basic of drills. It never changes.

“That’s a beautiful thing,” offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. “Doesn’t surprise me with Frank, because Frank loves the game of football, and he loves being a part of a team, loves overcoming. It’s just been the story of his career, so why would it be any different now?”

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Is Frank Gore building a case for Canton?

San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore joined an elite club in Sunday's 28-17 season-opening victory over the Dallas Cowboys.

Yes, we already know he became the 29th member of the 10,000-yard rushing club. But more than that, Gore is just the 10th player to rush for that many yards while playing at least 10 seasons with one team.
The others?

Try Emmitt Smith (Dallas Cowboys), Walter Payton (Chicago Bears), Barry Sanders (Detroit Lions), Tony Dorsett (Cowboys), Franco Harris (Pittsburgh Steelers), Thurman Thomas (Buffalo Bills), Fred Taylor (Jacksonville Jaguars), Jerome Bettis (Steelers) and Tiki Barber (New York Giants).

All but Taylor, Bettis and Barber are already in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, though Bettis is a four-time finalist for enshrinement in Canton. So it begs the question -- is Gore worthy of Hall of Fame discussion?

Or is it too soon to bring up the topic?

Consider: Bettis, who rushed for 13,662 yards in his career as a six-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro, went out on top with a Super Bowl ring while Barber was a three-time Pro Bowler, and one-time All-Pro and Taylor went to one Pro Bowl.

Gore, a five-time Pro Bowler with 10,033 career rushing yards who has been to the playoffs the past three seasons after being shut out the first six years of his career, has yet to win a rushing title, or be part of a Super Bowl championship team. Besides, a more hearty Canton case for a 49ers running back might first be made for Roger Craig.

Plus, Gore is 31 years old and his best days may be behind him, but he still has some run left in him.

"There's no shelf life for football players," said coach Jim Harbaugh. "And that's something I learned at an early age from my mom -- never to believe in expiration dates. She taught us that very early -- pay no attention to the expiration date on that can or that milk or that bread.

"Now, maybe she was just trying to get things at a lesser cost. Learned that very well. There is no expiration date. Even if the bread had a little mold on it, brush it off or cut it off and eat the other part, but we're not throwing it away. We're not throwing away good food or drink."

Or football players that can still contribute and, presumably, continue to build a case for Canton while helping a team that's been to three straight NFC title games finally break through to get the franchise's first Lombardi Trophy in 20 years.

Because with the 49ers currently having just two tailbacks on the roster in Gore and rookie Carlos Hyde -- LaMichael James went through waivers unclaimed on Tuesday, a day after requesting and being granted his release from the Niners while unhappy about a lack of playing time -- it's obvious San Francisco still has faith in Gore.

And that's just fine with him. After all, it was his 5-yard pickup off right tackle on third-and-3 that sealed the 49ers' victory over the Cowboys.

"That's me; I'm a very smart runner," he said, unapologetically. "I've got good feet and great vision. I know my alignments. You see different movement on the defensive line, and you know where they're going.

"That's just me being me."

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#NFLU Week 1 proCane Wrap Up

Every Tuesday we will wrap up the all the action from the previous week’s NFL action.

The Streak: Four proCanes scored (Allen Hurns (2 TDs), Greg Olsen (1 TD), Travis Benjamin (1 TD), Lamar Miller (1 TD)) to extend the TD Streak to 7 straight weeks a proCane has scored an NFL touchdown. As reminder the record is 149 straight weeks.

Allen Hurns, Jaguars: Hurns caught four passes for 110 yards and two touchdowns. He became the first undrafted rookie to catch two touchdowns in his first game since the New York Giants’ Bobby Johnson in 1984. Two catches, two touchdowns, Hurns became the second NFL rookie to ever do that, joining Detroit’s Charles Rogers. Hurns also ended up playing the 2nd most amount of snaps among WRs behind Antonio Brown. Hurns has out-produced both receivers the Jaguars selected in the second round of the NFL draft in May. Not bad for an undrafted rookie

Andre Johnson, Texans: Johnson moved past Redskins legend Art Monk into 16th place in NFL history in receiving yards. Johnson, who hauled in six passes for 93 yards, has 12,754 yards in his 12 professional seasons.

Frank Gore, 49ers : Gore just the 29th running back in NFL history to reach the 10,000-yard mark, and just the 10th to eclipse the milestone with one franchise. With a four-yard run in the third quarter, Gore became one of just three active running backs in the 10,000-yard club. He is also just the second #proCane to do it; Edgerrin James ranks 10th all-time with 12,279 yards.

Devin Hester, Falcons: The Falcons promised to use Hester also as a WR this season, and so far they have fulfilled that promise. Hester caught 5-of-6 targets for 99 yards in the Falcons' Week 1 win over the Saints.

Seantrel Henderson, Bills: Henderson, who was drafted in seventh round of the year’s NFL Draft started his first NFL game in week 1 beating out 2nd round Bills draft pick Cyrus Kouandjo.

Greg Olsen: 8 catches, 83 yards, 1 TD
Allen Bailey: 2 tackles, 1 sack, 1 TFL
Reggie Wayne: Back from injury: 9 catches, 98 yards
Vince Wilfork: Back from injury: 2 tackles

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Frank Gore runs with mind as much as legs

Arlington, Texas -- The big statistical moment for Frank Gore came in the third quarter Sunday when, on first down from the 49ers' 30-yard line, he ran for 4 yards. With that carry, Gore moved into the 10,000-yard club, joining 28 other members.

The definitive Gore moment actually came later. Toward the end of the fourth quarter, with 1:42 to play and Dallas still with a flickering hope, Gore ran 5 yards for a first down, allowing the 49ers to run out the clock and off the field.

"That's me, I'm a very smart runner," Gore said. "I've got good feet and great vision. I know my alignments. You see different movement on the defensive line and you know where you're going."

Gore isn't falsely modest, nor should he be. Another of his signature moments came in December, when he dropped to the field after a 51-yard carry late in a home game against the Seahawks. His heady move forced Seattle to use its timeouts and set up a 49ers win, their only one in their past four tries against Seattle.

Gore has long had to be his own biggest believer, doubted time and again. Now 31, he's once again hearing the whispers, and the ticking clock, both because of his age and because of the addition of impressive rookie running back Carlos Hyde.

"I've heard all the doubters," he said. "I want to prove everyone wrong."

Gore is, more than any other player, the one who carried this team out of the darkness. He could be headed to the Hall of Fame, though a Super Bowl win would cement his career.

In addition to crossing the 10,000-yard plateau, Gore is one of 10 players to gain those yards in 10 seasons with one franchise. That puts him in an even more elite group, along with six Hall of Famers (Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton, Barry Sanders, Tony Dorsett, Franco Harris and Thurman Thomas).

"It is a pleasure to be on the same field with this guy," linebacker Patrick Willis said.

Gore finished with 63 yards on 16 carries. Hyde, who appears to be the best all-around running back the 49ers have drafted since Gore, ran for 50 yards and a touchdown on seven carries.

Hyde might be the future, but don't push Gore out the door. He's still too good and too smart.

"That's just me being me," Gore said.

Which, for the 49ers, is just perfect.

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Frank Gore becomes 29th player to surpass 10,000 rush yards

ARLINGTON, Texas – Running back Frank Gore became the 29th running back in NFL history to reach 10,000 yards in career rushing on Sunday.

Gore, who entered the season opener against the Dallas Cowboys with 9,967 yards, went over the 10,000-yard mark early in the third quarter on his seventh rushing attempt.

A 10-year professional, Gore moved into 28th place on the all-time rushing list, surpassing Ricky Williams’ total of 10,009 yards. Williams played for New Orleans, Miami and Baltimore in his career, which stretched from 1999 to 2011.

Gore surpassed Hall of Famer Joe “The Jet” Perry in 2011 to become the 49ers’ all-time leading rusher. Gore compiled seven 1,000-yard seasons in his first nine NFL seasons.

In 2010, he rushed for 853 yards in 11 games before sustaining a hairline hip fracture. Upon his return in 2011, he has not missed a game.

Gore ranks third among active NFL running backs in career rushing yards. Atlanta’s Steven Jackson entered the season with 10,678 yards, while Adrian Peterson began the day with 10,115 yards.

A third-round pick in the 2005 draft, Gore on Sunday started his 45 consecutive game – the longest current streak in the NFL.

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Once ‘soft,’ Frank Gore credits Rathman for mid-career change

The 49ers employ a hard-nosed, Nebraska-bred former fullback as their running backs coach, and Frank Gore is grateful for that.

Gore, of course, is something of a rarity: a dynamic running back that delights in dirty work.

Gore’s ability to stonewall blitzing linebackers is legendary (see here). And watch closely the next time Colin Kaepernick is sprinting 20 yards downfield. There’s a decent chance Gore will be in the immediate vicinity looking to wipe out a would-be tackler.

It wasn’t always like this. During the first four seasons of his nine-year career, Gore defined himself by yards gained and linebackers eluded. Then former 49ers fullback Tom Rathman arrived in 2009.

During a 20-minute interview for this feature story, Gore brought up Rathman’s influence without prompting and was eager to stay on that topic.

“You have to try to do everything great as a running back,” Gore said. “I feel like everybody at this level should be able to run the ball, but coach Tom got me to think – he changed my mind – about the extra stuff. Protecting the quarterback, blocking downfield.”

“A lot of guys can’t do what I do. Seeing the holes before they’re there, getting through small spaces and trying my best to protect my quarterback. Other backs don’t do that. And I give credit for that to Tom. I just wanted to run the ball before. I didn’t mind protecting, but now I take pride in it.”

Gore arrived in the NFL known for his resilience. He tore the ACL in both knees at Miami. He returned from his second surgery to rush for 945 yards in 2004 in his final college season and won the Brian Piccolo Award given to the ACC’s “most courageous” player.

However, Rathman, whose run-first Nebraska team lost a national championship to glitzy Miami in the 1984 Orange Bowl, wasn’t impressed: Dude, don’t you want to block?

“He challenged me. He called me soft: ‘Oh, you’re from Miami,’” Gore said. “I don’t know what kind of bad experience he had with Miami players, but he was going at me hard, man. And I’m a competitive guy. And I respect Tom. I’m glad he came into my career when he did because I think that was the perfect time. I think he’s a big part of my success and why I’m still going.”

One of Gore’s first chances to prove his grit to Rathman came during a joint training-camp practice with the Raiders in 2009. Gore treated the one-on-one pass blocking drills pitting the 49ers running backs and Raiders linebackers like the Super Bowl. At one point, Rathman had to separate Gore from Oakland’s Kirk Morrison (see video).

Gore admitted he was initially ticked off by Rathman’s assessment.

“Yeah, at first, I was like ‘Man, this guy,’” Gore said. “We went to practice against Oakland and I was going to show him that I wasn’t soft.”

For his part, Rathman, 51, doesn’t recall specifically calling out Gore.

“I can remember sitting down and talking to him in the classroom, with all the guys, explaining to them what we want those guys to become as football players,” Rathman said.

Whatever the case, Rathman acknowledged the obvious: The message resonated.

“You see Kap run and you see Frank down there getting cut blocks,” Rathman said. “I don’t know, from the footage I’ve seen in the NFL, I don’t know if any back has ever done what he’s doing as far as being a pass-blocker and blocking downfield.”

“… There’s a lot of players that play the game. And there’s a lot of football players that play the game. And Frank is definitely a football player. And we love having football players here. Guys that are passionate about the game and want to do anything possible to have success. Frank does it all.”

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Rathman on Gore’s workload: ‘We need to manage him’

The 49ers have tried to manage running back Frank Gore’s workload in recent years to keep him fresh for the latter stages of the season.

And those attempts, the statistics suggest, have been largely unsuccessful.

Last year, for example, certainly wasn’t a smashing success. Gore, 31, had 146 carries in the first eight regular-season games, 130 in the final eight games, ranked eighth in the NFL in rushing attempts and didn’t finish with a flourish. He averaged 4.2 yards a carry in the first eight games, 3.9 in the final eight and that number dipped to 3.4 in the postseason, which ended with an 11-carry, 14-yard performance in the NFC Championship Game.

Since 2011, Gore has had 424 carries and averaged 4.8 yards a rush in the first half of the season. He’s had 392 carries and averaged 3.8 yards in the second half.

On Tuesday, 49ers running backs coach Tom Rathman said the team has closely monitored Gore’s workload “in the last three or four years.” And they’ll try again in 2014.

“We need to manage him,” Rathman said. “We need to keep him (fresh) from Week 1 to the Super Bowl. So that’s going to be the biggest challenge. He’s ready to go and he’s right where he needs to be.”

Second-round pick Carlos Hyde could help the 49ers succeed where they’ve fallen short in the past. At 230 pounds, Hyde is significantly bigger than Kendall Hunter, Gore’s primary backup since 2011 who will miss 2014 with a torn Achilles.

That is, Hyde could be better equipped to handle assistant bell-cow duties, which could entail 10 to 15 carries a game. He’s had 88 yards and averaged 5.9 yards a carry in the preseason, which could earn him a 50-50 split if that carries over into real games.

In addition, LaMichael James, a rumor since he was drafted in 2012, could receive more action after he flashed vastly improved pass-blocking skills in his 2014 debut on Sunday against the Chargers.

Gore’s brilliant pass blocking and pass-catching ability explain why it’s been hard for the 49ers to take him off the field. However, the do-it-all Gore isn’t as useful if he’s worn down during the stretch run, as the numbers suggest he was at the end of 2013.


Gore’s numbers in the first half of the season, second half of the season and playoffs since 2011:

First eight games: 146 carries, 618 yards, 4.2 average
Final eight games: 130-510-3.9
Playoffs (3 games): 48-164-3.4

First eight games: 119-656-5.5
Final eight games: 139-558-4.0
Playoffs (3 games): 63-319-5.1

First eight games: 159-782-4.9
Final eight games: 123-429-3.5
Playoffs (2 games): 29-163-5.6

* The 49ers had first-round playoff byes in 2011 and ’12.

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Frank Gore makes #NFLRank at No. 42

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- This season could well be Frank Gore's swan song with the San Francisco 49ers.

Gore has had what some view as a Hall of Fame career; but the reasons he may be near the end in San Francisco are threefold. He turned 31 in May, he is entering the final year of his contract, and Gore's heir apparent, second-round pick Carlos Hyde, has looked fantastic in training camp and in the preseason.

If this is it for Gore, who is 33 yards from breaking the 10,000-yard career rushing mark, he has not gotten the memo. Gore is not about to concede playing time in San Francisco.

As he reported for his 10th NFL training camp, Gore was asked whether he was concerned about the presence of Hyde and Marcus Lattimore, a fourth-round pick last year. Gore just laughed and reminded anyone within earshot that he is a product of the University of Miami. Competition doesn’t scare him.

ESPN’s panelists who selected the NFL’s top 100 offensive players agree with Gore. He is ranked No. 42 on the list. That’s high praise for an over-30 running back. The respect and expectations for Gore are not without merit. He hasn't showed signs of slowing down and continues to be a major cog in the 49ers’ run-heavy offense. He had 1,128 yards on 276 carries (the third-highest total in his career) last season.

Even with the youngsters in camp, Gore has made his presence known. Fullback Bruce Miller said Gore looked like he was in midseason form the first week of camp. Fellow 30-something receiver Anquan Boldin said it is obvious Gore is fueled by talk of his pending demise and looks determined to star again.

The 49ers' coaches sense it, too.

“Frank loves the game of football, and he loves being a part of a team, loves overcoming,” San Francisco offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. “It’s just been the story of his career, so why would it be any different now?"

Added 49ers general manager Trent Baalke: “Father Time is having a hard time catching up to him.”

The real question about Gore: Will he be ranked higher than No. 42 on next year’s ESPN list?

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Frank Gore Continues to Cement 49ers Legacy

Before we ask the question, we’ll answer it.


Frank Gore is a future Hall of Fame running back. There should be no debate. And that sentiment is not just because we received co-signage from San Francisco’s running backs coach Tom Rathman, the flat-top haircut, eye-black, neck-roll wearing fullback, who paved running lanes for 49ers Hall of Famer Roger Craig.

We make an early case for San Francisco’s current bell-cow runner because Gore’s numbers and contributions to a proud football organization deserve to be celebrated inside of pro football’s hallowed grounds. Some voters might look the other way and select players with greater statistical production during Gore’s playing era, but that opinion isn’t shared by the highly respected Rathman. The Hall of Fame voting process could be described as “peculiar at times,” according to one national football writer, but it doesn’t change the way the 49ers see their star player.

“If you look at some of the stuff he’s been doing the past four-five years; pass-blocking, run-blocking,” Rathman says, “I don’t think you see any other players at the position in the history of the game who have done that before. Not only statistically speaking, but doing the little things.”

Sure, Gore has the most carries (2,187), rushing yards (9,967), rushing touchdowns (60) and 1,000-yard rushing seasons (7) in team history. But can you even fathom the 49ers reaching the NFC title game in three consecutive seasons without the hard-charging running style of number 21? Not possible. Even with a reloaded receiving corps, Gore - a five-time Pro Bowler - figures to spearhead a large chunk of San Francisco’s offensive attack heading into 2014.

“Frank loves the game of football, and he loves being a part of a team; loves overcoming,” offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. “It’s just been the story of his career, so why would it be any different now? He’s got a heart. You can’t measure how big his heart is. What does that mean? Well, what it means is every play he plays all out and with a great will.”

At 31, Gore wills himself to show liveliness on the practice field. In his mind, there’s no slowing down in his 10th season in San Francisco. Critics might question how much Gore has left in the tank, but nobody around the 49ers is wondering that. Gore pointed to how he approaches the challenge of maintaining his Pro Bowl-caliber play in the late stages of his career. It’s a welcomed opportunity to silence doubters, the same ones who wondered how the third-round draft pick in 2005 would recover from two major knee surgeries at the University of Miami.

“I knew from seven years on that I would hear that every year,” Gore said before the start of training camp, “It doesn't bother me. I train hard during the offseason, I practice hard during camp. I'm just trying to be the Frank Gore I have always been.”
Rathman backs his player up in that regard.

“He hasn’t changed,” the coach says. “You watch him on the practice field and he’s practicing hard. He’s not getting a lot of reps because we have young guys who need reps, but he’s getting himself prepared. Physically he’s in shape and mentally he’s sharp. He’s right where he needs to be at this stage of camp.”

Gore continues to be a selfless, team-first contributor who loves the game and everything that comes with it. He values the sacrifice, the teamwork and the stage. Rathman sees a player who continues to thrive in the team setting. The more the 49ers have won under Jim Harbaugh, the more the leading rusher has grown to appreciate sharing touches on offense and being a key cog in Roman’s power-running system.

“It takes 11 guys being on the same page to win,” Rathman says. “I think that’s where he’s really grown, understanding that piece of the game.”

Gore’s contributions stretch beyond carrying the football. Look no further than last season’s Wild Card road playoff win over the Green Bay Packers. When Colin Kaepernick was breaking contain to torch the Packers defense on the ground, it was Gore who was throwing his body around with clutch open-field blocks to spring his athletic quarterback. Those plays didn’t go unnoticed in the film room.

Simply put, it’s why Gore is revered as a true “football player” by his teammates and coaches.

“He’s dynamic at run blocking,” Rathman says. “If you look at the film from last year, look at his cut-blocks downfield. He’s an all-around player. You have to love him. He’s good at everything. It’s great to have players like that.”

Rathman knows do-it-all running backs quite well. His college roommate, Craig, thrived in Bill Walsh’s West Coast offense, becoming the first player in NFL history to record 1,000 rushing and receiving yards in the same season. Gore has never been used that way as a receiver, but he does have the chops to move the chains out of the backfield when needed. Either way, Rathman sees Gore as a determined runner just like Craig.

“I think you can put him in the same category,” Rathman says. “This guy is going on 10 years and will probably be over 10,000 yards. I don’t know how many players who were able to do that and play for one organization. He’s a great player. There have been other great players here at the position and Frank ranks up there with Roger.”

So will we see Gore continue his run of 1,000-yard seasons, going on three-straight years?

“Past performance often times predicts future success,” Harbaugh said. “Frank has been one of the top backs in the National Football League and I see that continuing. Frank gets football. Frank understands football. Frank keeps himself in tremendous shape.”

The dedication is coach-like. Gore could even become a valued teacher or evaluator once his playing career concludes and he celebrates a certain enshrinement in Canton, Ohio.

“I don’t think there’s any question about that,” Rathman says. “He’s got a great passion for the game. Any time you have passion for the game, he can do whatever he wants. You could see him as a scout or as a coach. He could hold his own meeting room and get up there and have confidence as he’s coaching because he knows it.

“He’s dynamic.”

Yes, he certainly is.

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Frank Gore going strong at 31, with one goal left

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Nine years later, Frank Gore remembers every name. You ask, and he'll start rattling them off.

Ronnie Brown. Cedric Benson. Cadillac Williams. The guy who went to Arizona ... J.J. Arrington, that's his name. And Eric Shelton.

All five running backs who were picked ahead of Gore in the 2005 draft.

"Then the 49ers drafted me," said Gore, the 65th pick of that draft, in the third round.

Just look at those names. Brown is the only other one still going, and he was out of work until the Texans signed him earlier this week. Vernand Morency, Ryan Moats and Maurice Clarett (!) were the next three backs to go. Those names seem like NFL relics, probably because in the world of a running back, they are.

And then there's Gore. He's 31 and says he feels great. He doesn't look like he's near the end, coming off an 1,128-yard, nine-touchdown season. On draft day in 2005 he lasted longer on the board than all five of those guys he remembers so well, and he's prideful that he'll likely be the last one of that group standing in the NFL.

"It's a blessing," Gore said. "That's why when I'm out here, I have fun. Because I've been up and I've been down, and I know it can be taken away from me."

It'll end at some point. One of these days the annual prediction will be right, and Gore will hit the wall. The 49ers are preparing, having drafted Marcus Lattimore last year, and Carlos Hyde in the second round this year. Gore's contract is up after this season. It's not hard to see where this might be headed.

Gore understands the possibilities. If he is bitter about the 49ers planning for life without him, he shows it in a strange way. After a practice at Levi's Stadium on Friday night, he stopped by the tunnel for a few minutes to sign autographs for fans who had come to watch. He spotted Hyde, and waved him over to do the same. It was a small moment, a respected veteran showing a rookie what he should do – and it just happened to be for a rookie who might have his job next year.

"I know what I can do," Gore said about the 49ers drafting Hyde. "God has me healthy and I know what I’m capable of doing. So why be mad at a guy who the organization brought in? Why not bring him on?"

Gore knows this might be his last season in San Francisco, although that hasn't been determined yet and the 49ers love the hard-nosed Gore. However, he understands the business side of the game.

"All I can do go out and try to be the same Frank Gore," he said about being in a free-agent year. "Show the organization I can play this game at a high level, and also show other teams, if I’m not here, someone else can have interest in me."

Whatever happens after this season will be figured out later. Like the rest of the 49ers, Gore has some unfinished business this season and some urgency to tend to it.

The 49ers have lost in either the NFC championship game or Super Bowl three straight years, all very close and very late losses. Gore has team records for carries (2,187), rushing yards (9,967), rushing touchdowns (60), but no championship ring.

"I want a Super Bowl," Gore said. "Before I leave this organization, I'd love to have a Super Bowl with this organization. Just to know what I've done here and I would love for it to be said when I'm done, 'Frank Gore, arguably probably was the best back here, and he got a ring here.'"

He brings up Roger Craig, who might have the best argument other than Gore for best 49ers back among those in the Super Bowl era, and immediately points out that Craig had three Super Bowl rings.
Meaning that he needs a ring too no matter what else he has done, although what he has done in his 49ers career has been fantastic.

“Frank is the most underrated football player – and this is not hyperbole – honestly that I’ve ever known,” 49ers legend Steve Young said on KNBR, via the team's website. “He’s a well-known player, but no one understands how great he really is. He’s one of the best backs I’ve ever seen or watch play."

If the 49ers finally get that Super Bowl ring, Gore will be a big reason why. San Francisco has an improving passing game with the incredibly talented Colin Kaepernick at quarterback, but the 49ers still want to be a tough, running team. And one of the reasons they've established that identity the past few years is Gore, who has evolved into a versatile back who takes as much pride in his blocking and receiving as his rushing yards.

He said he feels good at age 31. He works out with younger players back in Miami ("It keeps me honest, to know where I'm at," he said) and said he feels the same as he always has. At an age when most backs are deep into retirement, Gore has been remarkably durable. He hasn't missed a game in three seasons, with 877 regular-season touches and a lot of playoff action. That's pretty impressive for a player who slid in the draft because he had two knee surgeries at Miami.

However long Gore has left playing at a high level, or playing in San Francisco period, he again brings up the one thing left on his to-do list.

"I've played in a Super Bowl, NFC championship, but before I leave, I want God to bless me and my teammates and get us a ring," Gore said.

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Steve Young Lauds Frank Gore as 'Most Underrated'

Frank Gore speaks the loudest on the football field. 

Given his remarkable longevity and consistency at the most punishing position in the game, the 49ers veteran running back can let others do the talking off it.

For one, allow Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young to detail the light in which he views Gore.

“Frank is the most underrated football player – and this is not hyperbole – honestly that I’ve ever known,” Young said on KNBR. “He’s a well-known player, but no one understands how great he really is. He’s one of the best backs I’ve ever seen or watch play. The things he does, the things he helps with in all facets of the game, the kind of guy he’s on the field, he’s just a really good player.”

Those words come from Steve Young the ESPN analyst, not Steve Young the 49ers supporter. The high praise didn’t stop there, though. He went on to put Gore’s immeasurable value into a more luminous perspective.

“He might not explode for 80 (yards), but wouldn’t you rather have a guy that made every first down?” Young said. “Third-and-four and he got you five because of his unique, incredible ability to wait and hold. He has made more first downs just purely on guts and guile.”

Despite Gore beginning this season at 31-years-old, Young believes the hard-nosed rusher still has plenty left in the tank, but he’d like to see 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick take the next step in his career progression to alleviate some of Gore’s responsibilities in the offense.

“Colin is going to have to drop back, read some defenses and deliver some footballs,” Young said. “Put the ball in the end zone without Frank doing it all. It’s going to be a challenge, but it has to come at some point.”

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Frank Gore and Father Time

SANTA CLARA -- The numbers say Frank Gore is done.

He's 31, old for a running back. He's coming off a season that saw a dip in production. He's being challenged by a few hungry youngsters, one of whom -- Marcus Lattimore -- openly said he has his eyes on Gore's job.

Gore's response to it all: "I'm going to do what I do."

That's Gore, his cup running over with confidence, reality be damned. It's what has made him special for nine seasons with the 49ers, what has him 33 rushing yards shy of 10,000, what enabled him to overcome serious injuries to both knees in college.

Many are expecting Gore to fade into the history books. The 49ers' all-time leading rusher is supposed to be on his swan song. Don't buy it.

As long as he stays healthy, Gore will be pivotal for the 49ers this season as they pursue the Super Bowl ring that has eluded them three straight years.

Gore isn't likely to recapture his dominance of yesteryear. But he isn't done.

He still cares too much not to put in the work. He still has elite vision and patience. He still has the kind of heart that makes Ronnie Lott smile.

And he hears the doubters.

"For him to have younger guys say they want his spot, for guys outside of this organization to count him out, say that he's over the hill ... that's real motivating to him," 49ers receiver Anquan Boldin said before Wednesday's practice.

An improved passing game, owing to upgrades in the receiving corps and the anticipated growth of quarterback Colin Kaepernick, should create more space for the running game. In the end, though, the 49ers run on toughness, on grind, on will. And that's Gore.

His defiance of the odds fuels the spirit of this team. The immovable chip on his shoulder gives the 49ers a rock in trying times. If he can be preserved so that he's fresh late in games, it borders on insanity to think Gore won't produce.

Eventually, time will catch up to Gore. Certainly, it is gaining on him. Last season, he posted a career-low 4.1 yards per carry, and his 70.5 yards per game was his lowest since his rookie year, when he started just once. According to Pro Football Focus, which grades how ball carriers perform in open space, Gore ranked 46th among NFL backs in elusiveness.

Running backs over 30 don't tend to get better. But Gore has gotten good at beating back age. He had 276 carries last season, third-most of his career, and still fumbled only three times, same as in 2012.

Anyway, he's past the point of being justified by numbers. Gore's worth isn't measured in total yards as much as it is in clutch yards.

"Frank gets football," coach Jim Harbaugh said. "Frank keeps himself in tremendous shape. When you're with him hourly, daily over the course of three years ... you see the way he takes care of himself, the way he understands the game. This is a man who comes in at 6, 6:30 in the morning doing cardio and studying film."

The 49ers are smart enough to know they need a strong backup behind Gore, a guy with the potential to start. That's why the season-ending injury to Kendall Hunter hurts. It's why Niner Nation hopes Lattimore is as good as he thinks.

But if he, or anybody, is going to knock Gore off the top of the depth chart, he will have earned it. Because Gore says he isn't ready to pass the torch.

"He doesn't look any different to me," Boldin said. "He looks explosive. He's still one of those rare backs that can find the smallest hole and get through it. Out of all the guys that I've played with, he's that guy."


Frank Gore's productivity over nine seasons with the 49ers: Position: RB » Age: 31 » Ht: 5-9 » Wt: 217 » College: Miami

Year GP Car Yds TD Rec Yds TD
2005 14 127 608 3 15 131 0
2006 16 312 1,695 8 61 485 1
2007 15 260 1,102 5 53 436 1
2008 14 240 1,036 6 43 373 2
2009 14 229 1,120 10 52 406 3
2010 11 203 853 3 46 452 2
2011 16 282 1,211 8 17 114 0
2012 16 258 1,214 8 28 234 1
2013 16 276 1,128 9 16 141 0

Totals 132 2,187 9,967 60 331 2,772 10

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In 10th season, 49ers' Gore still aims to prove doubters wrong

What began as a standard interview -- reporter asking the questions; player answering -- quickly flipped on its head when Frank Gore decided he had a few things to passive-aggressively get off his chest.

"How do you think I'm looking?" the San Francisco 49ers running back asked.

Told it's training camp, and that's practically an impossible question to answer for a 10th-year veteran, Gore nodded, paused and shot back, "So how do y'all judge players right now?"

It was clear where this was going. Gore has been reading and hearing plenty of talk in recent months about how his career is winding down. Recently, the injuries to backup running backs Kendall Hunter (torn ACL, out for the season) and LaMichael James (dislocated elbow, out about a month) had many saying the 49ers suddenly had major concerns in what used to be an incredibly deep backfield.

It makes sense. Gore is 31, Carlos Hyde is a rookie and Marcus Lattimore is still on the non-football injury list, as he recovers from the ghastly knee injury he suffered in college.

Except it doesn't make sense to Gore, who hasn't missed a game since 2010 and has posted remarkably consistent numbers over the last three seasons: 1,211, 1,214 and 1,128 yards and eight, eight and nine touchdowns, respectively. Last year, he became only the 20th NFL rusher to gain 1,100 yards in a season in which he was 30 or older.

Gore is set to make over $6 million this season, provided he stays healthy. If the Niners considered asking Gore to slash that figure at some point, they didn't go through with it. And now, since he's the last reliable body left in the backfield, he won't be taking a pay cut anytime soon.

"I've been consistent my whole career," Gore told FOX Sports Tuesday. "I still love the game, I still train hard during the offseason, I still want to be the man and I'm going to try my best to do whatever it takes to help my team be successful. That's all I can do."

He continued, "I've had so many doubters my whole career and I've been hearing every year, 'What does Frank Gore got?' and all this. And I always come to play every year."

This will likely be a transition year for Gore and this entire 49ers offense.

The additions of Stevie Johnson and Brandon Lloyd, the return to full health of Michael Crabtree, the motivation of tight end Vernon Davis, the consistency of Anquan Boldin, the drafting of Bruce Ellington and the expected growth of Colin Kaepernick in his second full season as a starter indicate the Niners will feature more of a passing attack. Their training-camp practices reveal as much as well, as they're lining up three and four wide receivers on a regular basis, with Kaepernick's decision-making seeming to be a bit quicker than it's been. Last year, Kaepernick ranked 20th in the NFL with 416 pass attempts. It wouldn't be a shock if he cracks the top 10 in that category this season and makes a run at 4,000 yards.

Which means the days of Gore carrying the load for a run-heavy attack could be over. He had 276 rushing attempts last season -- the third-highest total of his career -- and could see that number dwindle this season.

But Gore says it doesn't have to shrink. This offseason, he worked out with younger backs, such as the Cincinnati Bengals' Giovani Bernard, the Miami Dolphins' Lamar Miller and New England Patriots rookie James White. Gore claims he would know if those young guys were outpacing him. He says they weren't.

"We competed and I felt I was right there with them," he said. "Every day, if I didn't look better (than them), I was right there with them. That's a good thing. ... I feel good. I feel great. I feel the same. I still feel quick, I feel my explosiveness is still there. I'm smart."

That last part -- his smarts -- has helped his longevity. It's why he claims he still feels fresh at a time when most running backs have broken down.

"I know when to go get it and when not to," he said. "People think I take hits but I really don't. My running style is so low they don't get a great shot on me."

The critics have gotten their shots, and Gore has heard them. He's using it as motivation -- everything from the talk about how it's time for the 49ers to start winding him down and phasing him out, to the handwringing over the injuries to his backups.

Gore believes he will have the final say this year.

"It's been a blessing, man," he said. "I train hard. I train with great guys in the offseason, I have great coaches in the offseason. I train with a lot of those young guys to keep my honest with myself. I have to.

"As long as I want to be the man you've got to approach it that way. I still love the game and we're a great team. I want to be part of a Super Bowl (winner)."

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In 10th season, 49ers running back Frank Gore isn't ready to slow down yet

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Asked how he'll deal with a challenge from a phalanx of young and talented running backs this year, the 49ers' Frank Gore turned toward his questioner, smiled and said, "I'm from Miami, man."

He could have left it at that.

Gore, the 49ers' all-time leading rusher, sharpened his skills and hardened his resolve by fighting for carries as a younger man, especially at the talent-laden University of Miami, where he first competed with Clinton Portis for a role in the Hurricanes' backfield and later did the same with Willis McGahee. Portis, now retired, is 30th on the all-time NFL rushing list; McGahee, a free agent, is 37th. Gore is 29th.

After the 49ers drafted him in 2005, Gore quickly wrestled the starting job from incumbent Kevan Barlow, and he has been dispatching challengers since. Whether it's been Barlow, Brian Westbrook, Brandon Jacobs or LaMichael James, the common thread of playing running back for the 49ers over the past decade has been frustration and a lack of playing time. Gore hardly ever leaves the playing field.

"I've been out there competing ever since I left high school," Gore said. "I've been with top guys who have been in the league. ... One day, (the young running backs) are going to have to get this role. But while I'm here, I'm going to look at it as a challenge."

This year is shaping up as Gore's biggest battle since he played for the Hurricanes.

He's 31 � ancient in running back years � and is surrounded by younger players, including two of the most highly regarded runners in the last two drafts, Marcus Lattimore and Carlos Hyde. Lattimore's challenge of Gore may be delayed. When the 49ers' first practice of training camp began Thursday, he was on the physically-unable-to-perform list as he continues to come back from his 2012 knee injury.

The group also includes Kendall Hunter, Gore's top backup the past three seasons, James and Jewel Hampton.

If the 49ers are eying a running-back-by-committee approach this season, they're not letting on.

"I don't know," coach Jim Harbaugh said. "We could be talking about the wide receiver position same as the running back position. A very talented group of running backs, there's no question about it."

It's clear Gore is not the same runner he was when he out-dueled Barlow as a rookie.

His breakaway speed, which helped him gain a career-high 1,695 yards in 2006, is gone, and plays that call for Gore to run to the outside have been avoided. Still, he's started every game for the last two seasons, and last year, including the playoffs, he had 324 carries, the most of his career.

"When my number's called to be out there, I'm out there," he said.

An added motivation for 2014: Gore is going into the final year of his contract, which also happens to be his 10th season with the 49ers. A decade with one team is a major milestone, especially for a running back. One of the walls inside 49ers headquarters is dedicated to the men who have played 10 or more years with them. It's a small group of mostly household names � Montana, Rice, Lott, Young, etc. � but only one running back, Joe Perry, has his portrait on that wall.

Perry is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and the 49ers have retired his number. When the season ends, Gore will be the 49th player on the wall � a fitting number for a player who propped up the offense during its darkest years.

As far as sharing the backfield with his young teammates, Gore didn't dance around the question like Harbaugh. He's been protective of his status as the team's top back all of his career, and he's hungry for most of the carries this season, too.

Said Gore: "I'm here. I'm still here. So why not?"

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Frank Gore rooting for Marshawn Lynch in holdout

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore understands why Seattle Seahawks holdout Marshawn Lynch is trying to cash in while he can.

"Yeah, you've got to," Gore told USA TODAY Sports on Saturday. "You never know at the (running back) position. When you've got leverage, you've got to go get it."

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll told USA TODAY Sports on Friday "it's a contract for a reason," providing a strong indication the 49ers' NFC West rivals aren't inclined to appease Lynch with more money.

Lynch is due $5.5 million this season and $7.5 million next. Fellow running back Jamaal Charles also had two years left on his deal before the Kansas City Chiefs gave him a two-year contract extension and a $4.4 million raise in 2014.

"Jamaal Charles – he got it. I hope Marshawn get it, too," Gore said. "I respect Marshawn's game a whole lot. I think he's the one that makes that offense go over there. I respect their team. I respect their quarterback (Russell Wilson). But Marshawn is just a beast, man. A beast."

Gore, 31, is due $6.45 million in the last year of his own contract and he comes off his seventh 1,000-yard season in eight years. Is his own upcoming contract negotiation on his mind?

"I just play ball," Gore said. "Hopefully, I just go out there and try do whatever it takes to get me the trophy, man, and see how I go from there. I'm enjoying it. I'm blessed to be 10 years and still be able to be in the NFL. I'm just taking it one day at a time, one year at a time.

"If I have a great year this year, then hopefully, they're going to re-sign me or somebody will. I still love it. I want to walk away when I want to walk away. "

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Frank Gore on RB competition: 'I’m from Miami, man'

Asked how he’ll deal with a challenge from a phalanx of young and talented running backs this year, Frank Gore today smiled and said, “I’m from Miami, man.”

He could have left it at that. Gore became the hard-nosed running back he is today by fighting for carries, espcially at the talent-laden University of Miami where he first competed with Clinton Portis for a role in the Hurricanes backfield and later did the same with Willis McGahee. Gore was leading McGahee for the starting spot in 2002 when he blew out his knee and had to sit out the season.

“I’ve been out there competing ever since I left high school,” he said. “I’ve been with top guys who have been in the league. It’s all to get each other better, and I’m up for it. One day, they’re going to have to get this role. But while I’m here, I’m going to look at it as a challenge.”

This year, Gore leads a group of upstarts, including 2013 draft pick Marcus Lattimore and this year’s second-round pick, Carlos Hyde. Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James and Jewel Hampton round out the 49ers’ group of tailbacks in training camp. It’s easily the most talented group Gore, 31, has faced in his 10 NFL seasons.

One of the questions that’s bound to dog him this season is, will there be an 11th season? Another: If he does continue to play in 2015, will it be with the 49ers? Gore is entering the final year of his contract and could be a free agent in March.

The running back said he is focused on this season. And he didn’t seem willing to relinquish any carries to the young guns.

Last year, Gore started every game and, including the playoffs, ended with more carries, 324, than he had in any previous year. Asked if he wanted the same kind of workload this year, he said, “I’m here. I’m still here. So why not?”

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Frank Gore Should Still Rank Among NFL's Most Complete Backs

Maybe it’s Frank Gore’s age. At 31, the 49ers’ running back should be slowing down – though he’s not shown any signs of it even after nine NFL seasons.

Or maybe it’s because Gore is on an offense with quarterback Colin Kaepernick and wide receivers Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree and a group of able running backs waiting to succeed Gore in the starting lineup.

Perhaps NFL observers already are penciling in Marcus Lattimore, Carlos Hyde and Kendall Hunter for more carries and snaps in 2014.

But for whatever reason, Gore – long considered one of the NFL’s most versatile and skilled running backs – was left off a list this week compiled by analyst Bucky Brooks about the top 10 most complete running backs in the NFL.

Even though Gore had his third straight season of more than 1,100 yards rushing in 2013. Even though 49ers coaches consistently note that he’s perhaps the best-blocking running back in the NFL. Even though he’s caught 331 passes during his pro career – with five seasons of 40 or more receptions – Gore couldn’t crack the 10-man lineup of (from No. 10 to No. 1)  Eddie Lacy, Le’Veon Bell, Ryan Matthews, Reggie Bush, DeMarco Murray, Marshawn Lynch, Adrian Peterson, Matt Forte, Jamaal Charles and LeSean McCoy.

Gore of course is past the age when most running backs hit the wall.

But with one more year on his contract, Gore continues to punish himself with challenging offseason workouts to keep himself sharp, and his teammates marvel at his fitness and desire to stay at the top of his game.

“I really think Frank has three more good years,” 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh told Bay Area reporters this spring. “I truly believe that. But we’re in a game of taking it one year at a time.”

In the playoffs last season, Gore proved in a victory over the Packers what an all-around talent he is. He had a key block on a 42-yard Kaepernick run, had a 10-yard TD run and a key 11-yard reception on the 49ers’ drive to the winning score.

Said Kaepernick after that game: “He’s one of the best, whether it’s lead blocking on a scramble or pass protection. He’s one of the best in the league at what he does.”

Offensive tackle Joe Staley agreed, saying Gore is “willing to do anything to help the team.”

Gore says being an all-around back is something that’s very important to him, and he credits former 49ers running back and current position coac, Tom Rathman for helping him focus on being the best blocker he can be.

“I’d rather do whatever it takes, whether it’s running, catching, blocking, whatever it takes to be successful,” Gore said during the 49ers playoff run last season. “My coach, Tom Rathman, he’s really big on it.”

With Gore’s proven track record, plus his 1,269 yards from scrimmage in 2013, it’s surprising Gore didn’t make Brooks’ top-10 list. But, Gore has been proving skeptics wrong for years.

It’s very likely he’ll do it again in 2014.

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49ers Deep at Running Back behind Frank Gore

- Frank Gore continues to box in the offseason. The hand-speed and stamina training allows the 10-year veteran to fight off any runner who wants to take his on-field reps. Gore reached the 1,000-yard mark for the seventh time of his career last season and is poised to show no drop in his game once again. If prize fighters can stick around long into their sporting careers, why can’t Gore do the same?

- Marcus Lattimore is poised to face live contact in training camp and preseason games for the first time since he suffered his second devastating knee injury in the late stages of the 2012 college football season. Lattimore has shown a lot of burst and play-making ability in non-contact drills this offseason. We’ll know soon how this translates into the physical side of the game in the coming weeks.

- Don’t sleep on Kendall Hunter. He might be quiet, but the fourth-year runner does his talking in between the lines. Hunter had a solid offseason and like Gore, appears to be in line to maintain his running back duties of the past three seasons. Hunter has been solid as a backup, averaging 4.6 yards per carry on 262 career rushes.

Carlos Hyde. San Francisco drafted the Ohio State product in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft and it’ll be interesting to see how the physical runner is used in his first pro season. Hyde prides himself on being an every-down back. He showed he can catch the ball out of the backfield in spring drills, but how will he fare when picking up blitzing linebackers in one-on-one blocking drills? Hyde’s addition, coupled with LaMichael James’ change-of-pace skills, gives the 49ers an embarrassment of riches at the position. If Lattimore can return to form, San Francisco will have by far the deepest backfield in the league.

Bruce Miller signed a three-year contract extension through 2017, and all he got was a quill pen selfie… Miller probably won’t have to do as much H-back work this year, but the versatile fullback proved he can be a chess piece in coordinator Greg Roman’s offense… The 49ers drafted Oklahoma fullback Trey Millard in the seventh-round of the draft and he was the favorite player of Sooners head coach Bob Stoops. Millard is coming off a torn ACL and will likely start the year on the team’s Non-Football Injury List… Jewell Hampton rounds out San Francisco’s running back depth. He spent the past two seasons on San Francisco’s practice squad… The 49ers have averaged 137.6, 155.7 and 127.8 rushing yards per game in the past three regular seasons… Will that trend continue with a deep wide receiving corps on the roster? It remains to be seen. However, the running backs can help the passing attack, too.

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Frank Gore's carries to decrease a bit

San Francisco 49ers RB Frank Gore should see around 220 carries this season, according to's Bill Williamson. Gore carried the ball 276 times last year.

Fantasy Tip: Young backs Carlos Hyde and Marcus Lattimore will begin to cut into Gore's workload this season, but the bulk of the carries will go Gore's way if he is healthy. Consider him a low-end RB2.

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Will Frank Gore Top 200 Carries?

Right now, I’d probably guess Gore would get about 220 carries. The 49ers are paying him $6.4 million, so they think he can still help, even though he is 31 and is entering the final year of his contract. Rookie Carlos Hyde and Marcus Lattimore, if he can stay healthy, will take carries. But Gore is still Gore. He will have a role. Gore had 276 carries last season, which was the third-most in his nine-season career. He is a trusted resource for the 49ers. Don’t expect to see a dramatic carry decrease.

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Frank Gore: RB Depth Shows Strength of Roster

DALLAS – If you're looking for a little Internet entertainment, do yourself a favor and search “Frank Gore Boxing” on YouTube.

Take a few minutes and watch clips of the San Francisco 49ers all-time rushing king being an active ring technician. You can see a sweaty 5-foot-9 athlete sparring with a trainer, bopping up and down with Floyd Mayweather-like movements.

Needless to say, Gore still has plenty of fight left in him.

The running back with 9,967 rushing yards and seven, 1,000-yard seasons in nine years with San Francisco, has been working out in a boxing ring for some time. Come to find out, the offseason training method has helped prolong a masterful NFL career that is now entering year 10 for the former third-round draft pick in 2005.

“It keeps me on my feet,” Gore told earlier this month at Michael Crabtree’s youth football camp. “You get less pounding and also, it’s great cardio.”

Gore attended San Francisco’s nine-week offseason program that concluded last week, but he was held out of team drills so that his younger teammates could maximize opportunities on the field.

The lack of on-field work was fine with Gore.

When he’s not supporting a deep 49ers running back group with tips and encouragement, Gore was mixing in his sparring sessions away from the facility.

“I’m doing three minutes with only 30 seconds of rest,” Gore said. “I think that’s tougher than football training. It’s a challenge.”

Gore’s running back understudies appear to be something different, as in being the deepest group of backs on a single 49ers roster since Gore was drafted.

“I love it,” Gore said of the running back stable that now includes Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James, Marcus Lattimore and second-round draft pick Carlos Hyde nipping at his heels for carries.

“I just feel that it lets you know how much better our team is,” Gore continued. “Before I got here, it wasn’t like that. Now, each year there’s more competition so that lets you know how much better we are as a team.”

Hyde, who is the newest of the bunch and is looking to model his all-around game after Gore’s style of play, received praise from the elder statesman of the 49ers offense.

“We’re getting better each day,” Gore said. “Even the young running back we just drafted, Carlos, he’s doing a great job out there.”

It remains to be seen how much action Hyde will experience at training camp when it’s Gore’s turn to ready himself for another Super Bowl run.

“Training camp, I think that’s where it counts,” Gore said of San Francisco’s upcoming position battles.

“It should be fun.”

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Frank Gore Ranked the 46th Best NFL Player


Frank Gore was rated the 46th best NFL player by the NFL Network and below you can see Warren Sapp’s reaction to that!


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Frank Gore thwarts Father Time to drive San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers have brought in rookie Carlos Hyde from Ohio State, have Marcus Lattimore ready to show what he can do after a year of rehabilitation, and can hand the ball off to Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James, a pair of quick, slashing runners.

The San Francisco corps of running backs in 2014 will be deep and talented.

But despite the obvious skills of Hyde, Lattimore, Hunter and James, Frank Gore remains the team’s No. 1 running back.

And, it seems, he has no thoughts about stepping aside or slowing down, even though he turned 31 in May, an age when most running backs hit a wall and begin to show the wear and tear of all the hits they’ve taken.

Gore, however, is different than most running backs, and a profile of Gore and his intense workout regimen, published this week by Ryan Maquinana on, goes a long way toward explaining how Gore seemingly hasn’t been affected by age.

At age 30 in 2013, Gore rushed for 1,128 yards and nine touchdowns and again showed he was one of the best-blocking running backs in the NFL. It was his third straight season of more than 1,100 yards rushing and his sixth 1,000-yard season in his last seven.

Recently, Gregg Rosenthal of noted that Gore was selected the 46th best player in the league in the NFL Network’s annual ranking of the top 100 players.

“It’s amazing to think that Frank Gore’s durability was a big question for him coming out of college,” Rosenthal wrote. “The last of a dying breed at running back, Gore is still going strong at age 31 for the 49ers. He deserves to be No. 46 overall because he does every aspect of his job well. If I had to choose one running back to get three yards to save my life, (Gore) is the pick.”

So how does Gore do it? How does he remain durable, strong and effective? Maquinana’s story provides the answers.

Gore works out harder than most of his peers, and uses naysayers as motivation. This offseason he works out regularly in a high-altitude simulation dome, doing sit-ups to “the point of exhaustion” and lifting weights. His system is to have no system, he told Maquinana. He doesn’t do a set number of reps in his workouts. He goes until he can’t anymore.

“I’m done when I’m done,” Gore said, adding that he wants no “limits on what I can do to be in tip-top shape.”

In addition, Gore is in his third offseason of working out regularly at the Undisputed Boxing Gym in San Carlos. He can throw punches for 30 consecutive minutes without rest, an exhausting routine that would leave most other men on the mat.

“When I see a guy on the football field huffing and puffing, I know I got an advantage over him,” Gore told Maquinana. “Since I started boxing, between plays (on the football field), I’m standing straight up.”

Gore’s teammates rave about his fitness, leadership, work ethic and intelligence. In fact, even though he’s 31, many can’t imagine him slowing down.

“You know what, I think he’s got five more good years in him,” Lattimore told Maquinana. “He still can do it all, from what I’ve seen.”

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Why At 31, Frank Gore Has More

Niners running back Frank Gore finished the 2013 regular season with the lowest yards per carry average (4.1) of his nine-year career.

He finished the postseason with an 11-carry, 14-yard performance in the NFC Championship Game.

He turned 31 on Wednesday.

You see where this is going?

Yes, you are reading yet another is-Gore-ready-for-a-rocking-chair story, a genre that debuted in 2010 when he broke his hip at 27.

Gore, of course, keeps stiff-arming Father Time. Last year, at 30, the age where NFL running backs supposedly plummet into a sinkhole, he ranked ninth in the NFL in rushing yards (1,128), sixth in rushing TDs (9), tied for second in runs of 20-plus yards (9) and earned his fifth Pro Bowl berth.

Not bad for a guy who entered the NFL when Colin Kaepernick was a senior at Pitman High.

Still, given Gore’s age and career workload, it’s fair to ask the question, again: Is this the year he succumbs to the demands of his punishing position?

Gore ranks second among active running backs in career rushing attempts (2,187) and is tied for 29th all-time. The two running backs he’s tied with – Shaun Alexander and Earl Campbell – are reminders running backs rarely flourish at Gore’s age. Alexander and Campbell had 24 of their 18,860 combined rushing yards after age 30.

The 49ers are obviously preparing for life without Gore, who is entering the final year of his contract. After drafting Marcus Lattimore in the fourth round last year, they selected Carlos Hyde in the second round this month.

Lattimore is still surrounded by questions about his surgically reconstructed knee and has yet to play an NFL snap. But Hyde, who was viewed by many as the best running back in the draft, arrives ready to compete for carries after rushing for 1,527 yards and averaging 7.3 yards an attempt last year at Ohio State.
Said general manager Trent Baalke after Hyde was added to a group that also includes Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James: “It’s going to create great competition.”

It’s obviously possible Gore could be pushed into a secondary role in what could be his final season with the 49ers. But there is also evidence Gore, at 31, won’t relinquish his bell-cow status. NFL history is dotted with examples of running backs who were exceptions to the rule.

At age 31, Curtis Martin led the league in rushing; Walter Payton ranked second; Thomas Jones was third and James Brooks and Fred Taylor each rushed for more than 1,000 yards and averaged over 5.0 yards a carry.

In all, 16 running backs have been 31 or older before embarking on a 1,000-yard season, a feat Gore will attempt to accomplish this season. If Gore does so, the former third-rounder will become just the third running back who wasn’t a first- or second-round pick to join that group. The others: Mike Anderson (sixth round) and Curtis Martin (third round).

Here’s the list of running backs who were at least 31 before embarking on a 1,000-yard season (listed in chronological order):

Thomas Jones (born: Aug. 19, 1978) 2009 (age 31): 331 carries, 1,402 yards, 14 TD, 4.2 yards a carry Ranked third in the NFL in rushing and tied for third in TDs.

Ricky Williams (May 21, 1977) 2009 (32): 241-1,121-11-4.7

Fred Taylor (Jan. 27, 1976) 2007 (31): 233-1,202-5-5.4

Tiki Barber (April 7, 1975) 2006 (31): 327-1,662-5-5.1

Warrick Dunn (Jan. 5, 1975) 2006 (31): 286-1,140-4-4.0

Mike Anderson (Sept. 21, 1973) 2005 (31): 239-1,014-12.4.2

* Curtis Martin (May 1, 1973) 2004 (31): 371-1,697-12-4.6 Led the NFL in rushing yards and attempts.

* Emmitt Smith (May 15, 1969) 2000 (31): 294-1,203-9-4.1 2001 (32): 261-1,201-3-3.9

Ricky Watters (April 7, 1969) 2000 (31): 278-1,242-7-4.5

James Brooks (Dec. 28, 1958) 1990 (31): 195-1,004-5-5.1

Ottis Anderson (Jan. 19, 1957) 1989 (32): 325-1,023-14.3.1

* Walter Payton (July 21, 1953) 1984 (31): 381-1,684-11-4.4 1985 (32): 324-1,551-9-4.8 1986 (33): 321-1,333-8-4.2 Ranked among the top four in rushing yards from 1984-86.

* Tony Dorsett (April 7, 1954) 1985 (31): 305-1,307-7-4.3

* John Riggins (Aug. 4, 1949) 1983 (34): 375-1,347-24-3.8 1984 (35): 327-1,239-14-3.6 Rushed for a then-NFL record 24 TDs in 1983.

* Franco Harris, March 7, 1950 1983 (33): 279-1,007-5-3.6

* John Henry Johnson (Nov. 4, 1929) 1962 (32): 251-1,141-7-4.5 1964 (34): 235-1,048-7-4.5

* Hall of Famer Source:

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Frank Gore, Hunter likely to open year as 49ers 1-2

The Sacramento Bee expects the 49ers' running back pecking order to begin with Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter to open the 2014 season.

Things could change in training camp or after preseason games, but for now this is the likeliest outcome. Perhaps Hunter or Marcus Lattimore, or rookie Carlos Hyde will earn more playing time as the season progresses. For now, we'd consider Gore a shaky, lower-end fantasy RB2 entering his age-31 season, albeit still the favorite to lead the 49ers in 2014 carries. Hunter seems locked in as the change-of-pace back, even if Hyde or Lattimore overtakes Gore.

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Carlos Hyde will watch Frank Gore closely

SANTA CLARA — Carlos Hyde flashed a smile that reflected pure admiration Thursday when discussing Frank Gore, the legend he might eventually succeed in the 49ers' backfield.

For now, Hyde is just thrilled to be in position to learn from the 49ers' all-time leading rusher.

"Being able to watch Frank Gore and have an opportunity to learn from him is awesome," said Hyde, a second-round draft pick last week out of Ohio State. "Not too many people get to learn from a guy who's probably going to the Hall of Fame. I'm going to really pay attention to him and take notes."

Hyde hasn't yet crossed paths with Gore since arriving this week for offseason workouts. Gore gets his work in early in the mornings, and he's usually leaving just as Hyde arrives.

"That was a guy, even before I got drafted, that I was already comparing myself to -- he and Marshawn Lynch," Hyde said, "because those guys are relentless with the ball and they run tough."

Hyde did meet Gore earlier this spring while training at Bommartio Performance Systems in North Miami Beach.

"They've very, very different players ... but one thing in common is their love for football. Frank lives and breathes football," Pete Bommarito said Thursday in a phone interview. "It's good for Carlos to be around guys like that, to see what it takes to be a consummate pro."

Bommarito described Hyde's style as the "prototype of today's NFL," whereas he can be both a bruising back and also a receiving threat.

Hyde (6-foot, 235 pounds) is the biggest back in the 49ers' stable, which includes Gore (5-9, 217), Kendall Hunter (5-7, 199), LaMichael James (5-9, 195), Jewell Hampton (5-9, 210) and the untested Marcus Lattimore (5-11, 211).

Hyde's most likely role is to assume the short-yardage spot which the 49ers occasionally attempted to fill in past seasons with now-Buffalo Bills tailback Anthony Dixon (6-1, 233).

"The standard for bigger backs is 4.6. He's an exceptional big back with 4.5 speed," Bommarito said.

Hyde strained his left hamstring running the 40-yard dash (in 4.66 seconds) at February's scouting combine. He ran again for scouts prior to the draft earlier this month.

Gore's been training with Bommarito since before the 2005 draft, when the 49ers took a third-round gamble on the Miami tailback with two surgically repaired knees. Gore was unavailable for comment Thursday.

"The main thing Frank was doing here was we prepared him and got his body aligned for OTAs and what (the 49ers) wanted," Bommarito said. "He looks about the same as always. It's not like he ages."

Gore, who turned 31 on Wednesday, has turned several 49ers teammates onto Bommarito since the 2011 collective bargaining agreement restricted players' ability to work out at team facilities early in the offseason.

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick worked out there for two months after the Super Bowl, along with wideout Quinton Patton and linebacker Nick Moody. Wideout Anquan Boldin and linebacker NaVorro Bowman also have trained there.

Hyde says his Ohio State upbringing has him ready to also protect Kaepernick, both in the pocket and out of it.

As for why he described his own running style as "violent" when interviewed on draft day, Hyde replied: "I just run with anger. I don't shy away from contact. I'm a relentless runner, a guy who's always scratching and clawing for those extra yards."

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Frank Gore the Prospect

1. Hindsight Being 20-20

One way we've been getting ready for NFL Draft day – and, yes, it's finally here – is reviewing past 49ers drafts and what the talking heads said about notable picks. We went as far back as 2007, when one expert smartly called Patrick Willis the NFL's "next great middle linebacker." With the time we have left, let's go back to '05, when No. 1 overall pick Alex Smith overshadowed the rest of San Francisco's class, including a third-round draft pick out of Miami. ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. wrote, "Frank Gore could help take some pressure off Smith as they mature together." Other observers went a few steps further. "Gore, the running back who kept Willis McGahee on the bench, would have been a first-round pick except for multiple knee injuries," noted at the time. Gore would be "out to prove college knee injuries won't prevent him from becoming a star," said USA Today in its report card.

Jim Harbaugh has said that Gore has "three more good years" left in the NFL.

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Frank Gore, Antrel Rolle, Devin Hester, Reggie Wayne, Andre Johnson, Vince Wilfork named to CBS Sports' Under-25 vs. Over-30 teams

This year's prolonged stretch between the end of the 2013 season and the 2014 NFL Draft has left media outlets with a little more room to get creative with ideas in trying to fill the time until actual football happens again.

One of the main strategies in this endeavor is to put out a series of NFL All-Something teams. In an original wrinkle, CBS Sports took this a step further by having two of their football writers come up with an All-Under-25 team and an All-Over-30 team and then comparing them side-by-side with the goal of seeing who could come up with the better roster.

For the matchup, CBS Sports enlisted columnist Pete Prisco to come up with an Under-25 team to go up against columnist Pat Kirwan's Over-30 team.
As expected, both writers think their team is superior. Regardless, proCanes were represented on the Over-30 team with six. Zero proCanes made the under-25 team which speaks to the State of The Hurricanes teams the last few years.

Here's where they landed:
Over-30 Team, Pat Kirwan

Running back: The claim is never let a 30 year old in your backfield. Well, think again. My top choices are Frank Gore, DeAngelo Williams, Fred Jackson and Darren Sproles. I'll start Frank Gore but have Sproles ready for third down.

Wide receiver: I found 10 receivers I would like on the ol' boys team; Larry Fitzgerald, Reggie Wayne, Andre Johnson, Brandon Marshall, Vincent Jackson, Anquan Boldin, Roddy White, Wes Welker and Steve Smith. I can't have them all but I'll take Larry Fitzgerald and Brandon Marshall with Welker in the slot.
Starters: Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals (30) and Brandon Marshall, Bears (30)
Reserves: Wes Welker (32), Andre Johnson (32), Vincent Jackson (31)

Defensive tackles: Good luck running the ball against Haloti Ngata and Vince Wilfork with 700 lbs. of beef inside. When they need a rest or its time to rush the passer I have to decide between Kyle Williams, Justin Tuck and Darnell Dockett. Those three had 26 sacks between them last year.
Starters: Haloti Ngata, Ravens (30) and Vince Wilfork, Patriots (32)

Safeties: Guys who play safety for 10 years may lose a step but they can read a quarterbackand get him to do things a young safety hasn't even though of yet. My starters for the clash of the young and old will be Troy Polamalu and Antrel Rolle. If I want to go "big nickel" and bring an extra safety, Dashon Goldson and LaRon Landry are available.
Starters: Antrel Rolle, Giants (31) and Troy Polamalu, Steelers (32)

Special teams: Stephen Gostkowski just turned 30 and he was five for six on 50+ attempts but I could always call up Vinateri or any number of the kickers. Jon Ryan, punter for the Seahawks, only allowed 21 returns for a total of 82 yards the whole season and 28 punts inside the 20. Devin Hester can handle the returns with his 13 for touchdowns over his career.
Starters: Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots (30), Jon Ryan, Seahawks (32), Devin Hester, Falcons (31)

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Terrell Davis Expects Longevity from RB Frank Gore

Jim Harbaugh said last month that he expects 30-year-old running back Frank Gore to have “three more good years” in the NFL.

Terrell Davis agrees.

"What we've seen for 10 years has been a rock,” Davis, now an NFL Network analyst, told over the weekend. “How long can he continue to be solid for the Niners? Hopefully for a few more years.”

Gore, the San Francisco 49ers all-time leading rusher, rushed for 1,128 yards in his ninth season for the team last year. He enters 2014 with one year remaining on his contract and turns 31 in one month.

Davis, the Denver Broncos all-time rushing king, knows a thing or two about playing the contact-heavy position of running back. He played seven seasons in the league but was limited to 17 games over his final three.

Gore, meanwhile, has never played in fewer than 11 games in any one campaign.

“I expect him to continue to do what he's been doing, being a guy that once the opportunities are there and he's presented with the ball, he's going to make good on it,” the three-time All-Pro said of Gore, who entered the NFL in 2005, four years following Davis’ retirement at the age of 29. “I don't see anything changing for him this year unless the injuries crop up for him."

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Frank Gore's value worth cap number

In February, San Francisco 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said he didn’t think the team would necessarily have to ask running back Frank Gore to take a pay cut.

Fast forward a month-and-a-half, with the heavy financial lifting of the offseason completed, the 49ers have not adjusted Gore’s pay. His 2014 salary cap number is $6.45 million. Barring an unforeseen development, the 49ers likely will not approach Gore to take a cap hit this year.

Gore has the highest salary-cap number among running backs in the NFL. Gore turns 31 in May. That is an ancient age for an NFL running back. Check out this Kevin Seifert piece on how running backs decline quickly.

But that’s the point about Gore -- he’s still productive. Gore had 1,128 yards and averaged 4.1 yards per rush in 2013. Four of the running backs with a higher salary-cap renumber in 2014 had more yards than Gore last season. They were Adrian Peterson, whose cap number is the highest for a running back at $14.4 million, LeSean McCoy, Matt Forte and Marshawn Lynch.

Gore is older than all of the running backs with a higher salary cap number in 2014. But with his production in the same range, it doesn’t appear to be a stretch that Gore remains among the highest paid players at this position despite his advanced age.

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Jim Harbaugh: Frank Gore capable of “three more good years”

As one of the NFL’s oldest starting running backs, and with more than 2,000 career carries to his credit, the future of 49ers tailback Frank Gore figures to be a front-burner issue as long as he continues along on his remarkable professional career.

However, Jim Harbaugh believes Gore, who turns 31 in April, has some quality football left to be played, the 49ers’ head coach said Wednesday at the NFL meetings, according to Matt Maiocco of

“I really think Frank has three more good years. I truly believe that. But we’re in a game of taking it one year at a time,” Harbaugh said, per
Gore’s contract expires at season’s end. Given his age, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the 49ers took a wait-and-see approach to whether Harbaugh’s prediction holds.

Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James and Marcus Lattimore are among the options behind Gore on the 49ers’ depth chart. All are signed beyond 2014.

Gore needs 33 rushing yards for 10,000 in his career. He racked up 1,128 yards and nine TDs on 276 carries a season ago.

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Frank Gore Headed to the Hall of Fame?

Frank Gore had another banner season for the San Francisco 49ers in 2013.

Gore, the franchise’s all-time leading rusher, gained 1,128 yards and found the end zone nine times during his team’s 12-4 campaign. He now has 9,967 career rushing yards which puts him 29th on the NFL‘s all-time list. There is no doubt that Gore is one of the best, if not the best, running back in 49ers’ history, but is he a future Hall of Famer?

The general thought is that the magic number a for running back is 10,000 plus yards rushing. While only 28 players in the history of the NFL have accomplished this feat, 10,000 alone does not carry a lot of weight in terms of the Hall of Fame. There are currently ten backs who fall between 10,000-10,999 yards rushing for their careers.  Those ten players are Warrick Dunn, Steven Jackson (still active), Ricky Watters, Jamal Lewis, Thomas Jones, Tiki Barber, Eddie George, Ottis Anderson, Adrian Peterson (still active) and Ricky Williams. Of this group, none of them are currently in the Hall of Fame and only Peterson is likely to get there.

Of the remaining 18 who have 11,000 yards or more, 13 of them (Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton, Barry Sanders, Curtis Martin, Eric Dickerson, Tony Dorsett, Jim Brown, Marshall Faulk, Marcus Allen, Franco Harris, Thurman Thomas, John Riggins and O.J. Simpson) are in the Hall of Fame. Of the remaining five, LaDainian Tomlinson is a sure bet to get in when eligible and Jerome Bettis should get there at some point. They stand at fifth and sixth all time with over 13,600 yards a piece. The other three are Edgerrin James (12,246 yards), Fred Taylor (11,695) and Corey Dillon (11,241 yards), all of whom have less of a chance.  So taking yardage into consideration, where does that leave Gore?

Barring injury, Gore is likely to reach 10,000 yards and exceed it by a considerable margin. At age 30, he has shown no signs of slowing down and is on track to be the 49ers’ lead back again in 2014. He would need 33 yards rushing to reach 10,000 and 1,033 to reach that all important 11,000 mark. To do the latter, Gore would have to average 64.5 yards a game over a 16 game season.

Another factor to look at is touchdowns. Gore has 70 total touchdowns and averages just under eight per season. Of the 13 11,000 plus yard backs in the Hall, only four of them have less than 100 total touchdowns in their careers (Dickerson, Dorsett, Thomas and Simpson). Even if Gore manages to play another two or three seasons, he’s unlikely to get to 100. Gore has also never won a rushing title, but that is not as significant as one might think. Thomas, Riggins, Harris, Faulk and Dorsett all failed to win one during their careers.

It should be noted that Gore played on some very bad teams prior to 2011. The 49ers’ record in Gore’s first six seasons (2005-2010) was 37-59 with no playoff appearances. From 2011-2013, the team improved to 36-11-1 and has appeared in three straight NFC title games as well as a Super Bowl. Through eight playoff games, Gore has 139 carries for 646 yards and five touchdowns. He was outstanding in the Super Bowl, gaining 119 yards with a score. The performance proved that when given the chance, Gore shines on the big stage.

If Gore’s career were to end right now, you’d have to say, based on the statistics mentioned, that he falls short of the Hall of Fame. Where Gore can make his case is in the twilight of his career. If he can stay healthy and play another two or three seasons, he should have the numbers to warrant legitimate consideration. It would also help his case should he get additional opportunities to excel in the playoffs and again rises to that occasion.

As it currently stands, the final chapter of Gore’s career is yet to be written. That chapter will most likely determine whether or not his legacy will take him into Canton or if he will fall short of being inducted into the Hall of Fame. Regardless of the outcome, Gore has solidified himself as one of the most complete and consistent running backs of the modern era.

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49ers like Frank Gore as No. 1 back

SANTA CLARA -- General manager Trent Baalke said the 49ers' salary cap is in "good shape," so much so it won't heavily factor into how they shape their backfield for 2014 and at what price Frank Gore returns for a 10th season.

"We can move forward exactly as is if that's what we choose to do," Baalke told reporters Friday at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis.

As it stands, the 49ers remain enamored with Gore as their do-everything running back. But they also must figure out how Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James factor into the mix with a rehabilitated Marcus Lattimore, as well as practice-squad gem Jewel Hampton.

James, a 2012 second-round draft pick from Oregon, apparently isn't on the trading block despite rushing for only 184 regular-season yards in two seasons. Baalke, in a separate interview with the Sacramento Bee, said there have been no discussions to unload James.

Gore is poised to carry a $6.45 cap figure in the final year of his contract, including $3.3 million in base salary. He averaged a career-low 4.1 yards per carry last season while eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark (1,128) for the seventh time in nine seasons.

While Gore played nearly 75 percent of the snaps, his understudies saw their chances diminish, particularly because of Gore's pass-protection proficiency.
"All I can say is it's a crowded backfield. Frank had an awfully good football season," Baalke said. "Coach (Jim Harbaugh) mentioned yesterday it was A-plus-plus, and it was that kind of year.

"It's tough. There's certain game plans LaMichael was meant to play bigger role than he ended up playing. But that's the game. Every game you go in with a plan and sometimes that changes based on what you're doing and what the other team is doing. You've got to be flexible. It's up to LaMichael and every one of our players, we tell them up to you to earn time on the field."

Lattimore, the former South Carolina standout, did not play his rookie season while recovering from knee reconstruction. Hampton has not taken a snap since signing in 2012 as an undrafted free agent from Southern Illinois.

Anthony Dixon, a short-yardage back and part-time fullback last season, is scheduled to become a free agent next month. He has rushed for 458 yards and eight touchdowns in four seasons while also serving as a core special-teams player.

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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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Frank Gore Still Staying Ahead of Father Time

When the 49ers and Seahawks played for the NFC championship in January, the Seattle defense had one primary goal:

Stop Frank Gore.

“They’re going to get Frank Gore the ball,” Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril said before the game, adding: “It all starts with Frank Gore.”

The Seahawks accomplished their mission, holding the Niners’ veteran running back to 14 yards on 11 carries, and won the game, 23-17.

That wasn’t the only reason for Seattle’s success, of course, as both the Seahawks defense and offense came up with bigger plays in crunch time to earn a spot in the Super Bowl.

But it does point out how crucial Gore has been to the 49ers’ offense for so many years, and raises a question: How long can Gore keep it up?

At the age of 30, when most running backs hit a wall, Gore kept going. In the 2013 season, he rushed for 1,128 yards in the regular season for nine touchdowns. That gave him three straight seasons with more than 1,100 yards, following 2012 (1,214) and 2011 (1,211). Yet Gore’s per-carry average dropped to 4.1 in 2013, a significant change from 2012 when he averaged 4.7.

And as Bryan Knowles at Bleacher Report noted, Gore was much less effective in the second half of the season. On the same number of carries (162) in the final eight games as the first eight games, Gore had 108 fewer yards and averaged less than 4 yards per rush. And he had two of his three 100-yard games in the first half, along with a streak of seven straight games in the early to mid portion of the schedule in which he had at least 70 yards rushing.

Yet when the playoffs came around, Gore was big against the Packers and Panthers. He gained 66 yards vs. Green Bay and 84 vs. Carolina before being stuffed by the Seahawks. That was more a tribute to the Seattle D than Gore's ability.

Though the 49ers have young running backs Marcus Lattimore, Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James waiting to step into larger roles, it doesn’t seem likely that Gore is ready to slow down or step aside.

Plus, what Gore gives the 49ers is far more than a running back. He’s also a leader and perhaps the best-blocking running back in the NFL. According to stats by the website Pro Football Focus, Gore was in pass protection 160 times in 2013 – more than any other back in the league – and didn’t allow a single sack. He allowed just one quarterback hit and three pressures.

Already, Gore has begun his rigorous offseason conditioning program. Lately, he’s been working out with 49ers linebacker Nick Moody and Giants outfielder Michael Morse. Each year since he’s been in the league, Gore has put in the work to keep himself at the top of the running back ladder.

The 49ers owe Gore $6.5 million for the 2014 season, and based on what he did as a 30-year-old, it seems likely he’ll continue to be a key part of the team’s offense. His numbers may drop a bit, but he’s still running behind one of the best lines in football, and with Lattimore, Hunter and James, he may even get a few plays off to keep himself fresher.

And, Gore’s speed still seems intact.

Looking back on the 49ers’ season, Gore broke off a 39-yard run in the playoffs vs. Carolina and a 51-yarder against Seattle late in the regular season. Even late in the season, he still had that burst.

As far as head coach Jim Harbaugh is concerned, Gore remains one of the NFL’s best running backs.

“He runs the football very effectively,” Harbaugh told the media at season's end. “Nobody does it better. He blocks in protection. And he catches the ball out of the backfield. (He) does everything you’d want a back to do. And then he’s such a great example. Showers us with his attributes every day – the work ethic, the team attitude. (He’s) just a guy that says the right thing at the right time.

“That’s a pretty good list.”

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What does the future hold for Frank Gore?

There was some speculation prior to the 2013 season about whether or not Frank Gore would still be able to maintain his status as an elite running back in the NFL. The reason for the deliberation was due to the fact that Gore would playing out the year at 30 years old, which is an age that generally starts a massive decline for ball carriers.

Luckily for the San Francisco 49ers, Gore bucked this trend and produced another solid season. He finished ninth in the NFL in rushing with 1128 yards and scored nine touchdowns on the ground (the second highest total of his career). However, even with a productive 2013 campaign, there are still some questions about what the future may hold for the 49ers’ all time leading rusher.

Despite his solid overall performance, there were some red flags that surfaced in 2013 that could raise concerns moving forward. The first is the amount of touches Gore has had over the last three years. From 2006 (which was the first full year Gore was the feature back) through 2010, Gore averaged 248.8 carries and 14 games per season. He only once played a full 16 game slate (2006) and the 49ers never made the playoffs during that time frame. Over the last three years, Gore has carried that ball a whopping 956 times and is averaging 318.6 a year over 18.6 games. That type of workload is tough for any running back to bounce back from, let alone one who will be 31 years old and has 2327 career totes.

Gore did lose some steam down the stretch in 2013 as his yards per carry dipped down to just over 3.6 per rush over the last 10 games (including the playoffs). For the year, he averaged 4.1 yards per carry which was the lowest of his career. He also had his worst showing in the post season as he only gained 164 yards over three games with a 3.4 yards per carry average. In 2011-12, he gained 482 yards over five games and had 5.2 per rush in the playoffs.
Gore will also find himself in a very crowded backfield come 2014. Barring a roster move, the 49ers will have Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James and Marcus Lattimore all competing for carries with him. Hunter and James appear to be better suited for a change of pace role, however, and neither seem to be a threat to take Gore’s starting job away. The wild card here is Lattimore. San Francisco drafted the talented runner in the 4th round of the 2013 draft with the expectations that he would sit out the season and rehab from his second major knee injury. Lattimore did just that and could be close to 100 percent come next year. If healthy, there is a very real possibility of at least a time share with Gore.

Finally, there is the issue of money. Gore is owed $6.5 million dollars in 2014, which is a number the 49ers may not be willing to pay. It’s highly unlikely that the team would cut Gore, but there is a good chance that they will approach him about taking a pay cut. How Gore responds to this request could be a big factor in what happens next.

Logic would seem that the two sides will come to some sort of an agreement on the contract and Gore will continue to be a big part of the team next year. The 49ers have depth in place should an injury or drop in performance occur, and can take a chance on having an older back play a key role because of it.

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49ers must explore options with Gore's contract

Frank Gore enters the final year of the contract extension he signed in August of 2011.

Really, not much has changed since that time. Gore can still be counted on to gain more than 1,000 yards annually. And the 49ers still rely on him to keep the quarterback upright with his role in pass protection.

Gore’s yearly pay has remained consistent, too. In 2013, the 49ers paid him $6.45 million. Next season, he’s scheduled to make $6.45 million.

One difference is that the 49ers have to account of other players – including, perhaps, Colin Kaepernick – making more money on a salary cap that is not expected to see a significant rise.

Another thing that changes, of course, is Gore’s age. He turns 31 in May.

In real cash, Gore is scheduled to make the sixth-highest total for any running back in the league. In salary cap numbers, his figure ranks eighth because he did not receive a signing bonus with his 2011 deal.

Coach Jim Harbaugh was asked last week what Gore does for the 49ers’ offense.

“He runs the football very effectively,” Harbaugh said. “Nobody does it better. He blocks in protection. And he catches the ball out of the backfield. (He) does everything that you’d want a back to do.

“And then he’s such a great example. Showers us with his attributes every day -- the work ethic, the team attitude. (He’s) just a guy that says the right thing at the right time. That’s a pretty good list.”

Marcus Lattimore, who has a chance to be the eventual heir, is expected to be healthy for the entire offseason program. Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James also return on their first contracts.

Lattimore said the most important thing for him to earn playing time is to perform in pass protection. That's what Gore does better than anyone.

According to Pro Football Focus, Gore was in pass protection 160 times this season – far more than any other running back in the league. He allowed no sacks, one quarterback hit and just three quarterback pressures.

The 49ers must consider everything before determining whether to approach Gore about accepting a pay cut to guarantee he remains with the club next season.

Here's how Gore's contract stacks up against the other top-paid running backs in the NFL:

2014 running backs contracts
Cash value
Adrian Peterson $12 million
Chris Johnson $8 million
LeSean McCoy $8 million
Matt Forte $6.5 million
Jonathan Stewart $8.282 million
Frank Gore $6.45 million
Arian Foster $6.25 million
Marshawn Lynch $5.5 million

Cap figures
Adrian Peterson $14.4 million
Chris Johnson $10 million
LeSean McCoy $9.7 million
Arian Foster $8.5 million
Matt Forte $7.5 million
Marshawn Lynch $7 million
Ray Rice $8.75 million
Frank Gore $6.45 million
Note: The other highest-paid running backs who are at least 30 years old are Darren Sproles ($3.5 million) and Steven Jackson ($3 million).

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Frank Gore Headed for Minor Surgery

Gore is slated to undergo "minor" surgery on his finger, the Sacramento Bee reports.

Give that the procedure is being portrayed as minor, there is nothing at this stage to suggest that Gore's status for the 2014 season will be impacted by the issue. The 30-year-old back is entering the final year of his contract with the 49ers.

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Frank Gore Won't Play In Pro Bowl

Another day, another new player added to the Pro Bowl.

Or maybe it’s another hour.

The Cowboys have announced that running back DeMarco Murray will join the NFL’s all-star game, based on a knee injury to 49ers running back Frank Gore.

Murray is the first Cowboys running back to make it to the Pro Bowl since Marion Barber in 2007, who was the first since Emmitt Smith in 1999.

Five Cowboys have made it to the game.  Along with Murray, receiver Dez Bryant, tackle Tyron Smith, defensive lineman Jason Hatcher, and tight end Jason Witten will play.

For the first time, the Pro Bowl will be played without regard to conference.  Later this week, two teams will be picked from the total pool of players.

It’s unclear how the new format will make the players play harder, especially when they have plenty of reasons (in some cases, millions of them) to not get injured in late January.

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Frank Gore erased as 49ers get eliminated

Frank Gore was bottled up for 14 yards on 11 carries in San Francisco's NFC Championship Game loss to Seattle.
He added one catch for 17 yards. Gore was simply erased by Seattle's hot-and-cold run defense, getting stopped for two yards or fewer on nine of his 11 carries. He was dropped for a loss three times. It was a disappointing end to a season where Gore appeared to wear down in the second half. Although Gore surpassed 1,000 yards on the ground for the seventh time in eight years, his 4.1 yards per carry was a career low. Going on 31, Gore is headed into the final year of his contract. Whether it's by Kendall Hunter or Marcus Lattimore, expect Gore to be spelled more often in 2014.

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Frank Gore still proving himself every week

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) -- Frank Gore zig-zags his way for important gains up the middle, or to break a big run outside on the edge.

At this stage of his career, San Francisco's veteran running back is still among the best in the game at seeing holes in an opposing defense before they actually appear. And you can bet Gore gets a thrill out of surprising opponents who figure he might have lost a step now that he's 30.

''I like when they think that,'' Gore said with a grin. ''That's why I sneak up on a lot of guys in the open field. They think ... well, I'm not going to tell my secrets. In the open field, you see me, I can't run you over, but sometimes I also can make you miss, too. That has helped me out a lot.''

Just like most of his teammates, Gore would like to make a statement at Seattle in Sunday's NFC championship game as the 49ers (14-4) try to return to the Super Bowl despite lopsided losses in their last two road games against their NFC West nemesis.

Establishing the running game from the start against a talented and physical Seattle front seven will be a key factor in determining whether San Francisco takes that next step to the NFL's big stage in the Big Apple.

Gore, the 49ers' career rushing leader, managed only 16 yards on nine rushes in a 29-3 Week 2 loss at Seattle for his second-lowest yardage output of the year. He'll have to do much better to help San Francisco advance to the Super Bowl.

''He works. He works at his craft, from before practice doing drills to being in meetings, going over protections, knowing where he wants to hit different holes and ultimately going out and performing,'' quarterback Colin Kaepernick said. ''He's a true professional.''

Coach Jim Harbaugh calls Gore a ''mystical man'' for his uncanny knack at reading defenses and anticipating opponents' tendencies.

Harbaugh remembers his first conversation with Gore, a 30-minute chat on a balcony overlooking the practice fields.

''Then it's been daily, hourly since then,'' Harbaugh said. ''So, my admiration is as high as my admiration can be.''

Gore is thankful for his football instincts.

Finding openings in the defense is not something he studied. He insists he has always had the ability, perhaps more noticeable now that the 49ers are a consistent winner again.

''I just see things happen before it shows,'' Gore said Wednesday. ''God blessed me to find the small spots, get in the small spots, see the holes. ... Just in the flow of the game. I guess everybody's watching us now because we're winning. You can go back and see my film before Coach Harbaugh even came. I think that's probably one of the reasons I still have successful seasons.''

Gore doesn't have a snazzy nickname like Seahawks counterpart Marshawn Lynch and his ''Beast Mode'' moniker.

He doesn't mind one bit.

''I don't care, man, as long as we win and people respect my game - my peers who I play against, my coaches, my teammates - that's all I worry about,'' Gore said.

He certainly has that. Gore finished with 1,128 yards and nine touchdowns for his franchise-record seventh 1,000-yard season in a nine-year career.
And one memorable Gore run is still plenty fresh for the Seahawks.

Gore's misdirection 51-yard burst set up a go-ahead 22-yard field goal by Phil Dawson with 26 seconds remaining in the 49ers' 19-17 victory over the Seahawks at Candlestick Park on Dec. 8.

''Frank Gore had a great run the last time we played,'' Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. ''They were running the ball OK in that game, they were competitive and all of that, and then they busted one that changed the game and gave them all of the numbers. ... He did it again the other day, he busted one again. He's really capable, he's a fantastic runner, he's got great sense, and he's got as good a sense in the line of scrimmage as anybody that's playing in the game.''
Now, taking the next step for San Francisco means beating a smothering Seahawks defense that ranked seventh against the run during the regular season.

''Any week, you never know when you're going to break a big one,'' center Jonathan Goodwin said. ''You've got to keep blocking. In this league you play against some good run defenses. It's hard to break big plays.''

Running backs coach Tom Rathman has a basic philosophy at this stage of the season when the margin for success is so slim.

''We've got to execute, that's the bottom line, whether we're throwing the ball or we're trying to run the ball,'' Rathman said. ''It's pretty simple. In the games that we're successful, we do a great job of executing our technique and executing the plays, and that's what it's going to take when you start talking playoff games and playing great defenses.''

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Keeping Frank Gore in check will be key for Seahawks

In the last two seasons, the San Francisco 49ers are 2-0 against the Seattle Seahawks when Frank Gore runs for 100 yards. The 49ers are 0-2 when he’s been all but shutdown by Seattle’s defense.

While who will win the NFC Championship game on Sunday probably won’t be as easily determined as whether Gore puts 100-plus on the board, it’s obviously that stopping Gore will be a primary focus for the Seahawks.

“If you stop the run that’s key, especially with these guys,” Seattle defensive end Cliff Avril said. Frank Gore is a heck of a back and the biggest thing for us is being sound and playing discipline. Not trying to do too much like getting out of your gaps and trying to make that extra play or whatever because he will definitely pick us apart if you do that.

Gore’s 51-yard scamper in the fourth quarter against Seattle in Week 14 set up Phil Dawson’s game-winning field goal to hand San Francisco a 19-17 victory over the Seahawks. Gore finished the game with 110 yards on 17 carries.

The Seahawks shut Gore down in their first matchup in Seattle. Gore had just 16 yards on nine carries as Seattle put the game into the hands of Colin Kaepernick.

Kaepernick has thrown just 11 regular season interceptions since taking over as the 49ers starting quarterback last season. Four of those interceptions have come in Seattle against the Seahawks. Seattle intercepted Kaepernick three times in their 29-3 victory over the 49ers in Week 2. It’s the only time in his career Kaepernick has thrown multiple interceptions in a game. When Gore is ineffective, it puts the game in Kaepernick’s hands. With a secondary as strong as Seattle’s, that plays right into the Seahawks hands.

It was the same way a year ago for the two games between the teams. In San Francisco, Gore ran for 131 yards on 16 carries. 49ers win 13-6. In Seattle, Gore was held to 28 yards on six carries. Seahawks win 42-13.

“Their whole offense gets started with that run game,” linebacker Bobby Wagner said. “Our job is to not allow them to run the ball. I think if we stop the run and force them to be one-dimensional it will work in our favor.”

The game won’t purely be decided based on how Gore fares against Seattle’s defense. However, if the 49ers hope to earn their second straight Super Bowl appearance, Gore’s success will likely be one of the key factors of the game.

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Big dose of Gore would silence Seattle

SANTA CLARA -- The dry weather conditions are frightful, but Sacramento is certainly enjoying a quieter, calmer winter now that the Seattle folks are directing their venom elsewhere in California.

Your turn, Bay Area.

Fans of the NFL teams in the West Coast’s most sophisticated, geographically appealing cities, those of course being for the 49ers and Seahawks, have been spitting at each other for months, though not at this volume.

Talk shows. Television graphics. Scientific analysis. The coaches and players are talking about it, and repeatedly hearing about it, and undoubtedly formulating their own opinions on whether the noise level inside the stadium will affectthe outcome of Sunday’s NFC Championship Game.

For the past two regular seasons, the Seahawks have been loving it. They were undefeated at home in 2012 and lost only one game (to Arizona) in 2013.
If CenturyLink Field earned a salary, it would be in the Kobe Bryant/LeBron James range. If it were human, it could be charged with assault and sued for the intentional infliction of emotional distress. And how ironic is this? If it were an NBA facility, it would be a modern version of Sleep Train Arena.

On nights the Kings play well and capitalize on the cowbells, whistles, architectural advantages and ear-shattering amenities that routinely enhance the fan frenzy, the old barn remains the loudest building in the league.

But all that noise only makes the visitors uncomfortable; it doesn’t guarantee victories. The Kings still didn’t beat the Lakers in the seventh and deciding game of the 2002 Western Conference finals, so it didn’t really matter that coach Phil Jackson complained about his ears ringing for days, that Bryant raved about the atmosphere for years, or that the most famous Kings tweaker, Shaquille O’Neal, is the most loquacious member of the organization’s new ownership group.

What mattered is that the Lakers maintained their poise and made plays. They weren’t rattled. And somehow, they found a way to overcome the volume.

The 49ers have been polishing their communication skills, working hard to dispel the commonly held notion that men don’t talk, throughout the week.
“Signals, hand signals, verbal signals, body language, reading lips, different ways,” coach Jim Harbaugh said. “We’ll practice that. We’ve been in some of those environments, as you know.”

The 49ers have won road playoff games at Green Bay and Carolina. The game planning also includes a heavy emphasis on getting more out of Frank Gore, whose effectiveness against the Seahawks tends to mirror the outcome between division rivals.

In the 49ers’ bruising 29-3 loss Sept. 15 in Seattle, the 5-foot-9 veteran had 16 yards on nine carries. In the 49ers’ 19-17 win at Candlestick Park on Dec. 8, Gore’s 110-yard performance included a 51-yard burst that set up Phil Dawson’s winning field goal.

“They’re going to get Frank Gore the ball,” Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril told reporters in Seattle. “It all starts with Frank Gore. He’s patient, and once again, if you get out of your gap and try to do too much, he’ll pick you apart and hit those holes and get those big runs.”

The 49ers’ offensive linemen are aware of the numbers, as well as the fact that, if the Seahawks statistically have a tender spot, it’s their rush defense: Seattle led the league in total defense and passing defense but allowed 101.6 rushing yards per game, tied for seventh.

Creating openings for Gore and Colin Kaepernick, center Jonathan Goodwin acknowledged, is both challenging and imperative. There is that noise factor again.

“(Kaepernick) just has to get closer to the line, get closer to us,” Goodwin said while standing amid the clutter of shoes, tape and towels near his locker. “He just has to be louder.”

Asked about the use of silent snap counts and how often multiple plays will be called, he hesitated.

“Sorry,” he said. “I’m not going to give anything away … .”

Dawson, standing a few feet away, with his shoes lined up and meticulously stored, was somewhat more forthcoming; he can’t hear anything in CenturyLink Field, not even the sound of his foot hitting the ball.

“But I’ve been telling people that I’m on a team with a bunch of grown men,” he said, “and I’ve watched way too much playoff football. So I don’t care where we go. There’s no need for much talking.”

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Frank Gore on facing Seahawks: 49ers are built for this

It didn't take long for 49ers running back Frank Gore to gaze beyond Sunday's divisional-round playoff win toward San Francisco's next opponent.

"We have to go to Seattle," he said, per CSN Bay Area. "We know it's going to be a dog fight. But we are built for this."

Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin sounds equally primed, tweeting Sunday night: "Wouldn't want it any other way."

Niners coach Jim Harbaugh is the first coach in the Super Bowl era to take his team to the conference championship game in each of his first three seasons, doing it this time with a nasty, well-coached defense that shut out the Panthers for the entire second half Sunday.

That defense now faces a Seahawks attack of which Seattle coach Pete Carroll praised Saturday for its balance.

Right now, I disagree. If anything concerns me about the Seahawks, it's their passing game. While their ground attack shined for 174 yards Saturday, Russell Wilson's 103 yards through the air marked the lowest passing total in a playoff win since Mark Sanchez threw for 100 in a Jets divisional-round game in 2009.

Fierce gusts of wind at CenturyLink Field were the "worst factor," said Wilson, but Drew Brees found a way to puncture Seattle's historically epic pass defense for 309 yards and a touchdown strike.

Wilson isn't being asked to save his team through the air the way Brees or Andrew Luck were asked to this weekend, but San Francisco, after holding the Panthers to 93 yards -- Carolina's second-lowest total on the ground all year -- is going to put pressure on Wilson to make plays.

I can't wait to see how this young quarterback responds. Seattle's air attack has been off for weeks, with Wilson throwing for 74 fewer yards per outing over his past five starts. During that stretch, the Seahawks are scoring 8.3 fewer points per game and churning out 98.5 fewer yards.

Seattle's ground game capably picked up the slack against New Orleans, but that won't be a given next week against San Francisco's fourth-ranked run defense.

No team's a tougher out at home than the Seahawks, but the 49ers are the conference's hottest property right now. Gore's right, a dog fight looms.

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Frank Gore pops Carolina Panthers' hopes with big fourth-quarter run

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Frank Gore had run for only 39 yards until he doubled that output on a fourth-quarter carry that helped seal the 49ers' 23-10, divisional-playoff win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

On third-and-1 at the 49ers' 34-yard line, Gore burst through traffic at the line of scrimmage and reached the Panthers' 27 before getting tackled. That put the 49ers well within range for Phil Dawson's third field goal of the game, and most important, that drive soaked up nearly eight minutes.

"I've never seen anybody pop big runs like Frank Gore does when there's nine, 10, 11 men in the box," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said.

Gore finished with 84 of the 49ers' 126 rushing yards. His 632 all-time playoff yards moved him past Steve Young (594) for second most in 49ers history behind Roger Craig (817).

Part of Gore's motivation was to conquer Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly, who unseated the 49ers' Patrick Willis on the Associated Press' All-Pro first team next to NaVorro Bowman.

"I take my hat off to No. 59 (Kuechly), he's a great player, but I wanted to show everybody that we have two of the best linebackers in the league," Gore said.

Last week in practice, Gore played a behind-the-scenes role in preparing Vernon Davis for Sunday's go-ahead touchdown catch. Gore threw an array of passes to Davis on the side, and Davis credited those sessions for his fancy footwork on a 1-yard TD catch 5 seconds before halftime.

"We'd be on the sideline when the defense was practicing," Gore said. "I'd say, 'You want to be great. Let's do this.' Then I'd make crazy throws -- low, high, one-hand (catches), behind him. We're just trying to get better."

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Frank Gore was Vernon Davis' secret footwork coach

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Frank Gore not only helped seal the 49ers' 23-10 win with a 39-yard run, he also played a behind-the-scenes role in preparing Vernon Davis for a go-ahead touchdown catch.

Gore threw an array of passes to Davis on the side in practice last week, and Davis credited those sessions for his ability to keep his feet inbound in the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown catch 5 seconds before halftime.

"I knew it was legit. Me and Frank worked on it with 20 to 30 passes in practice," said Davis, whose touchdown was granted upon a replay review for a 13-10 over the host Carolina Panthers.

Said Gore: "We'd be on the sideline when the defense was practicing. I'd say, 'You want to be great. Let's do this.' Then I'd make crazy throws — low, high, one-hand (catches), behind him. We're just trying to get better."

Gore actually finished with more receiving yards than Davis, as the 49ers' running back made an 8-yard catch on the game's first series.

Of Gore's 84 rushing yards, 39 came on a third-and-1 run to spark a fourth-quarter drive that took eight minutes off the clock and led to an insurance field goal. "I've never seen anybody pop big runs like Frank Gore does when there's 9, 10, 11 men in the box," coach Jim Harbaugh said.

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Frank Gore carries more than a running back’s usual load

SANTA CLARA -- Not surprisingly, Frank Gore had a crucial role in two of the 49ers’ biggest running plays in their 23-20 playoff win over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.

The twist: The running back didn’t have the ball on either one.

The 49ers’ longest gain of the day was Colin Kaepernick’s 42-yard scramble that keyed a second-quarter touchdown drive. As Kaepernick dropped back and took off, Gore, who had released out of pass protection, glanced back and saw his quarterback on the move.

Turning upfield, Gore located Packers linebacker Brad Jones near midfield and threw a diving block at Jones’ feet. By the time Jones bounced back up, Kaepernick was past him, heading for the sideline and open ground.

Kaepernick rushed for another vital first down on the 49ers’ game-winning drive – again with an assist from Gore. On third down and 8 from the Packers’ 38-yard line, Kaepernick lined up in the shotgun with Gore on his right. As Kaepernick took the snap, Green Bay cornerback Jarrett Bush blitzed off the edge from the quarterback’s left.

Gore, though, picked up the blitz, helping free Kaepernick to scamper to his left for 11 yards down the sideline. Five plays later, Phil Dawson kicked the field goal that sent the 49ers to Sunday’s divisional playoff game at Carolina.

Asked this week about Gore’s blocking on Kaepernick’s long runs, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh drew a pickup basketball analogy.

“The guy that’s just going to hit the 30-foot jump shots isn’t necessarily the best player,” Harbaugh said. “You want the guy that’s going to go in and compete, set the hard pick, go in there with the elbows and do the dirty work and compete and help your team win. And Frank does that as good as or better than anybody in the league.”

Gore has long drawn praise from coaches and teammates for his blocking ability in pass protection and his penchant for picking up blitzes. With a quarterback in Kaepernick who is liable to take off running at any time, though, Gore sometimes finds himself essentially becoming a fullback in mid-play, lead blocking for Kaepernick yards downfield.

Case in point: Kaepernick’s 50-yard run in Week 13 last season against the St. Louis Rams. After teaming with fullback Bruce Miller on a block in the backfield, Gore got out in front of Kaepernick and sprung the quarterback with a diving block that sent Rams linebacker Rocky McIntosh head over heels in the air.

“He’s one of the best,” Kaepernick said, “whether it’s lead blocking on a scramble or pass protection.”

Running back Anthony Dixon, who also has played fullback for the 49ers, said Gore’s success starts with his willingness to be the aggressor when throwing a block.

“Frank does a real good job of initiating the contact,” Dixon said. “If you let (a defender) bring it to you, they can slip you, they can push you into the quarterback; there’s a lot of bad stuff that can happen. If you (can) be physical, stand your ground, you can win.

“He’s kind of short, so he’s already got the leverage, and it also helps that he actually wants to do it. When you’ve got a combination like that, it’s hard to beat because he can get under you and he’s also physical.”

Dixon and Kendall Hunter said blocking is a source of pride for the backs under position coach Tom Rathman, whom Gore credited with impressing upon him the importance of being well-rounded.

“When we first got together, he really said if you want to be one of the top guys, all football people will look at that and say you can go a long ways with that,” Gore said. “So I took it in, and that’s why I’m out doing it.”

It helps, Gore said, knowing that giving Kaepernick a few seconds of leeway might be the difference between a lost play and a long gain.

“When things don’t go right and the play breaks down, he runs,” Gore said. “And I know that’s going to frustrate a defense.”

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Frank Gore totals 77 yards, TD in victory

Frank Gore rushed 20 times for 66 yards and a touchdown and caught an 11-yard pass in the 49ers' Wild Card round win over Green Bay.
Gore scored his second-quarter touchdown from ten yards out on a read-option play, giving San Francisco a 13-7 lead. Although Gore failed to generate big plays on the ground, he chipped in a crucial 11-yard reception in the fourth quarter on San Francisco's game-winning drive, which was capped by Phil Dawson's 33-yard field goal. Look for Gore to have a similar workload in next week's Divisional Round showdown with the Panthers.

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Some proCanes Advance in the NFL Playoffs, While Others Are Sent Home Packing

With the first round of the NFL playoffs complete, some proCanes were sent home packing while others continue their quest for a Super Bowl ring.

With the New Orleans Saints defeating the Philadelphia Eagles, Jimmy Graham and Jon Vilma (IR) advance to the next round of the playoffs to take on the proCane-less Seattle Seahawks. Go Saints! The Eagles lost because they didn’t have any proCanes. Happy

Two proCanes were sent home with the Kansas City Chiefs losing a thriller to the Indianapolis Colts. DL Allen Bailey and TE Richard Gordon were sent home while Reggie Wayne (IR) will continue to help his team from sidelines in their next game versus the New England Patriots who have proCane DL Vince Wilfork who is also on IR.

The San Francisco 49ers behind the solid running of proCane RB Frank Gore ended up defeating the Green Bay Packers who lost proCane DB Sam Shields in the first quarter of their defeat. The 49ers will face the Carolina Panthers who have proCane TE Greg Olsen on the field and QB Coach Ken Dorsey on the sidelines. The Packers also have scouts Glenn Cook and Alonzo Highsmith on their staff as well as Winston Moss.

The Chargers who don’t have a proCane and defeated the proCane-less Bengals (boooooring), will face the Denver Broncos with their solid proCane offensive lineman Orlando Franklin.

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In end, 49ers' Gore answers the calls

The question lingered into the second half: Was it going to be another one of those games in which the 49ers ignored Frank Gore at a critical juncture?

It happened the previous Sunday in Arizona when Gore carried only 13 times for 14 yards and was visibly frustrated after the game.

And it looked like it was happening again Sunday, in a game that weather conditions appeared to dictate the necessity of a strong running game. Twice in the first quarter, the 49ers drove inside the red zone. The first time, the 49ers threw three incomplete passes and settled for a field goal. On the second, Gore carried once (for 4 yards), a third-down pass fell incomplete and the 49ers settled for another field goal.

For some people, including those vocal ones on Twitter, it was all getting a little too reminiscent of the end of the Super Bowl when the 49ers seemed determined to pass rather than give the ball to Gore.

But on Sunday, when the 49ers absolutely needed a running game - in the final two minutes of the game, when they needed to eat up the clock and get a first down - they turned to Gore.

First-and-10: Gore for 5 yards.

Second-and-5: Gore for 2 yards.

Third-and-3: Gore for 3 yards and a first down that set up Phil Dawson's game-winning field goal.

"It was big," Gore said. "It was a playoff game. We knew we had to get the first down. The O-line did a great job. That was big."

Gore, a South Florida native who played at Miami, went sleeveless and wore a hand warmer around his waist - but he wasn't going to pretend the conditions were anything short of brutal.

"It was tough," he said, adding that he wore a different type of spikes on his cleats for the field. "We knew it was going to be a cold game. But once you were on the field, you didn't think about it."

Gore was invaluable in other ways. He had key blocks on both of Colin Kaepernick's long runs.

Last January, Gore was vital to the 49ers' playoff success. He carried the ball 63 times in three games for an average of 5.1 yards per carry. It wasn't until the final, critical moments of the 49ers last game, the Super Bowl, that the coaches seemed to forget about Gore.

A word of advice: remember No. 21 this January - and, perhaps, February.

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Good news for Gore: Packers’ struggling run defense is next

Here’s a fearless wild-card prediction: Frank Gore will have more than 14 yards Sunday against Green Bay.

Gore had that rushing total in last week’s regular-season finale against Arizona, which boasts the NFL’s top-ranked run defense. In stark contrast, the Packers are, well, not quite as adept at stopping the run, to put it politely.

Green Bay finished the regular season 25th in rushing yards allowed per game (125.0) and 28th in yards allowed per attempt (4.6). An ominous sign entering their meeting against the 49ers: They morphed from average to awful as the season progressed.

In their last nine games, Green Bay allowed 157.2 rushing yards, 5.2 yards a carry and seven 100-yard rushers. Seven 100-yard rushers since November? The 49ers have allowed seven 100-yard rushers in their past 78 games dating to 2009. In addition, Green Bay’s 1,415 rushing yards allowed since Nov. 4 is just 120 fewer than the 49ers have allowed this season.

On Sunday, the Packers won’t have All-Pro outside linebacker Clay Matthews, who re-broke a thumb in Week 16 that required a second surgery. Matthews originally broke the thumb on Oct. 6 and had pins surgically inserted.

“You’re always cautious with players after surgery,” Mike McCarthy said Monday to the Green Bay media when asked about Matthews’ availability in the playoffs. “Right now he’s out for this week and that’s really what we’re focused on.”

In the 49ers’ 34-28 win over Green Bay in Week 1, Gore was limited to 44 yards on 21 carries. The Packers defense went to extremes to ensure they didn’t reprise last season’s playoff embarrassment, when Colin Kaepernick (181 yards) and Gore (119) headlined a 323-yard rushing performance. The tradeoff, of course, was that Kaepernick torched their secondary for 412 yards and three touchdowns.

On Sunday, the Packers will presumably try to find a happy medium. Whatever strategy they employ, I’ll stick with my bold prediction: Gore will rush for at least 15 yards.

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Three proCanes Named To Pro Bowl Roster

Three Miami Hurricanes were among those named to the 2014 Pro Bowl, announced by the National Football League offices Wednesday.

Andre Johnson (Houston Texans) was the lone proCane AFC selection

San Francisco 49ers' running back Frank Gore, who recently marked his team-record seventh 1,000-yard season, was an NFC selection along with Saints TE Jimmy Graham.

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Frank Gore Calls His Own Number in 49ers Victory

When he’s not on the field, Frank Gore can often be seen on the sideline during 49ers games chatting up his coaches and teammates. Gore doesn't have a headset on, but it's clear he wouldn't mind calling the plays.

San Francisco's all-time leading called his own number for a crucial fourth-quarter touchdown during his 21-carry, 97-yard performance in San Francisco’s 34-24 victory over the visiting Atlanta Falcons.

With the 49ers nursing a 20-17 lead that would prove precarious, quarterback Colin Kaepernick had been patched through a call for 2nd-and-goal at the one-yard line, and Gore didn’t like it.

The frustration of his one-yard rush from the two-yard line on first down was apparent.

“The scoring play was called by the players,” Jim Harbaugh said. “Frank wanted the repeat of the call we had on first down.”

Kaepernick confirmed: “Frank said he wanted the same thing, and I wasn’t about to argue with him. I don’t think Coach was too mad because we scored.”
Gore smelled the 60th touchdown of his nine-year career, and he wasn't about to let it get away.

“I saw the defense, how they were playing, and we were at what, the inch-line?" Gore asked. "And the ‘backers were playing five yards back. I knew it was a quick hit, and I know I quick-hitted it. I barreled through.

"But I'm happy he listened to me. That’s one thing I love about ‘Kap,’ he listens to his players, his teamamtes.”

How often does Gore ask Kaepernick to change the play in the huddle?

“It's rarely,” Gore said. “But I just know when they called another play."

With Gore’s production, plus 51 yards each from reserve Kendall Hunter (three carries, one for a 45-yarder that preceded Gore’s score) and Kaepernick, the 49ers rushed for 199 as a unit.

Gore (9,953) passed Clinton Portis (9,923) to move into 29th on the NFL's all-time rushing rankings. He'll be within striking distance of 10,000 yards for his career come Week 17 in Arizona.

“He looked good. He broke some runs in the first half and the second half as well,” Harbaugh said, turning away a reporter’s question about Gore’s sore ankles. “Thought the line really asserted itself, especially on the scoring drive.”

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Frank Gore Deserving of Fifth Pro Bowl Berth

Jim Harbaugh has called Frank Gore a "mystical man."

Most recently, Harbaugh called the 49ers running back a Hall of Famer.

"Yes, I believe so," Harbaugh said Monday in response to a reporter's question. "I truly believe that."

Gore, San Francisco's all-time rushing leader, rushed for 86 more yards in Week 15, pushing him above the 1,000-yard threshold for the seventh time in his nine-year career.

It's clear he hasn't lost a step at age 30, even after Sunday's win at Tampa Bay, where he suffered a late, minor ankle injury.

"Yeah, he was walking good on the plane. Saw him walk up and down the aisle. He looked like he was walking it off pretty good," Harbaugh said. "Came back and said hello. We had a nice chat during the flight... That was enjoyable. It’s kind of become a little tradition to have a nice chat with Frank after we win.”

Gore has made four Pro Bowl appearances. A third straight and five overall could be in order.

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Frank Gore goes over 1,000-yard mark

TAMPA, Fla. – Running back Frank Gore on Sunday eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for the seventh time in his nine-year NFL career.

Gore had a 5-yard carry with 11 minutes in the game on his 19th carry against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to give him an even 1,000 yards for the season. He went comfortably over the mark with a 12-yard rush two plays later.

Gore, a third-round draft pick, rushed for 608 yards as a rookie behind starter Kevan Barlow. The only other time since he became a starter in 2006 that Gore did not break the 1,000-yard mark was in 2010. Gore rushed for 853 yards in 11 games that season before sustaining a season-ending fractured hip.

Gore came into Sunday’s game just 69 yards shy of the 1,000-yard mark. He had 220 attempts for 931 yards (4.2 average) with eight touchdowns in the 49ers’ first 13 games.

Gore’s previous 1,000-yard seasons
2006: 312 carries, 1,695 yards (5.4 avg), 8 TDs
2012: 258 carries, 1,214 yards (4.7 avg), 8 TDs
2011: 282 carries, 1,211 yards (4.3 avg), 8 TDs
2009: 229 carries, 1,120 yards (4.9 avg), 10 TDs
2007: 260 carries, 1,102 yards (4.2 avg), 5 TDs
2008: 240 carries, 1,036 yards (4.3 avg), 6 TDs

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Death, taxes and Frank Gore

TAMPA - Death, taxes and 1,000 rushing yards for Frank Gore. The 49ers' running back surpassed that plateau for the third consecutive season and the seventh time in his career Sunday as he took big gouges out of the Tampa defense early and late and finished with 86 yards.

The only seasons that Gore, 30, failed to reach the 1,000-yard mark were during his rookie year when he was the backup to Kevan Barlow and in 2010 when he suffered a broken hip in Week 12.

"Once again, I feel like he is one of the most underrated running backs in the NFL," quarterback Colin Kaepernick said. "He does everything for our offense. He runs the ball. If we ask him to block, he does it. If we ask him to catch a pass, he does it. What he mans to this team and what he contributes really can't be quantified."

Gore entered Sunday's game nursing an ankle injury and needing 69 yards to reach 1,000 yards for the season. He seemed to tweak the injury late in the game but remained on the field. He had 33 yards on the team's game-clinching, 17-play drive in the fourth quarter.

"It's all timing for us, perfect timing," Gore said after the game. "Everybody is getting healthy, and like I said, the fourth quarter, that's when you want to be good. ... We're showing people that we're taking steps."

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Frank Gore muscles 49ers to titanic win over Seahawks

SAN FRANCISCO -- It is difficult to make the case that the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers are equals, even after Sunday’s titanic 19-17 Niner win. The 49ers needed to show, well, titanhood to slip past the error-and-penalty-prone Seahawks, but their capacity for titanhood is well established in these parts.

In other words, they did what was needed, and in December, that sort of thing almost invariably leads to January.

But they don’t have much time left in these parts – just a Monday night game against Atlanta that is sure to muffle the imagination. This game, this monumental struggle against their archest of rivals, was their last truly proud stand in the old firehall, and they stood quite tall indeed.

The tallest of all, as it turned out, was running back Frank Gore, who is perpetually ignored because of our fixation on quarterbacks. Gore broke what could truly be called a season-saving 51-yard run late in the fourth quarter, taking muddled field position at the San Francisco 29 with 4:35 left and changing the game into a time-eating exercise that required only Phil Dawson’s educated right leg for completion.
And yes, it mattered greatly, because on one last cold, windy day at Il Candeliere di dell’Inferno, Dawson admitted that the Gore run, and a Colin Kaepernick keeper three plays later, allowed him the luxury of not having to worry about the elements. “If that same kick is 25 yards further,” he said, acknowleding the wind that was blowing into his face at the south end of the yard, “it would have been pretty difficult.”

But it wasn’t, mostly because of Gore, who remains, with all due respect to the quarterback addiction plaguing our land, the most important offensive player the 49ers have. He sets all other tones, and the 30 yards in 11 carries in the first half coincides with the 49ers’ greatest offensive difficulties.

Put another way, he gained 98 more yards Sunday than he did in Week 2, allowing the 49ers to see the difference between getting boatraced and playing their one-score-and-as-many-field-goals-as-you’ll-let-us-have game. The 49ers have produced 14 field goals and eight touchdowns in the last five weeks, which is all well and good for now, but won’t be nearly so entertaining if the January of which they dream takes them through Philadelphia, Dallas, Carolina, Chicago, Green Bay or, you guessed it, Seattle.

Thus, you heard a team both proud and apprehensive after Sunday’s game. They had stood up to the baddest bully in the game and bested it – albeit by two-thirds of a field goal. But they had to exert maximum effort to do so, and Seattle’s opponents this year are 2-8 the next week.

In other words, this was fun, and when we say fun, we mean almost no fun at all.

Enjoy it? That’s not the word I would use,” head coach Jim Harbaugh said, choosing for once not to exercise his relish-for-competition theme. “It feels like you go to the dentist chair and three-and-a-half hours of getting root canal work done.”

The difference? This time, the work was done in the 49ers’ most comfortable settee. The next time, if there is one, it will be done on the NFL’s version of a wet, uneven concrete bench that sits low so your feet end up in a foot-deep puddle of wet mud.

In other words, Century Link Field. Hell’s Waiting Room with nachos and Seattle’s Best Coffee at every stand. The 49ers’ next goal may be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but what they really want to know is if they can stand up to the hell, the nachos and the coffee.

Otherwise, what’s living for?

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Frank Gore: Limited Wednesday

Gore (ankle) was limited in practice Wednesday, Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area reports.

Gore has fallen into a consistent workload of 14-to-18 touches during the 49ers' last four games, posting 203 rushing yards, 39 receiving yards, and one touchdown. His 3.6 YPC during that stretch isn't far off his season mark of 4.0, but a return to normalcy may not come to pass against a Seahawks defense that held him to 16 yards on nine carries during their first meeting of the year.

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Gore won’t let it drop: RB keeps taking blame for loss to Saints

This week, Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III has been criticized by the media and his teammate, wide receiver Santana Moss, for pointing fingers and not accepting responsibility for his role in last week’s 24-16 loss to the Eagles.

Meanwhile, here in Santa Clara, running back Frank Gore is apparently the anti-RG III, whom the 49ers will face on Monday night.

In the locker room today, Gore repeatedly referenced his dropped fourth-quarter pass in last week’s 23-20 loss to the Saints when queried about the 49ers’ recent offensive struggles. With the 49ers leading 20-17 with seven minutes left, a wide-open Gore dropped a potential big-gainer on 2nd-and-9 from San Francisco’s 21-yard line.

On Sunday, Gore said: “I have to make that play. I’m a better player than that. If I had made that play, we would have won the game.”

And he was just getting warmed up.

Today, Gore referenced his drop, without prompting, on three occasions in the course of a six-minute interview:

“A play here, a play there. Even the play where I dropped the ball, we could have won the game.”

“When the plays are there, we’ve got to make them. I point at myself with the pass. I should have made that catch. We wouldn’t be talking about this right now.”

“Like I said, if I would have caught the ball, we wouldn’t be talking about this right now.”

Gore may have botched a potential huge play Sunday.

In the aftermath, however, he hasn’t dropped the ball.

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Frank Gore wants losing streak behind him

SANTA CLARA — Frank Gore has gone through his share of losing streaks in nine seasons with the 49ers, and their lastest one has him scratching his head.

"I'm very surprised we lost the last two like that: close games," Gore said Wednesday.

The 49ers (6-4) are coming off losses to the Carolina Panthers (10-9) and New Orleans Saints (23-20). Next up is a Monday night game against the host Washington Redskins (3-7).

"I know Monday night, Washington is going to be pumped, and we're trying to get back on track to where we want to be, and that's the playoffs," Gore added.

The 49ers offense ranks 29th overall in terms of yards per game, and although they have the fifth-best rushing attack, the pass offense still ranks last for a third straight week.

Left guard Mike Iupati likely will miss Monday night's game because of a sprained left knee.

"Mike's a great player, a Pro Bowl player and helps the run game a lot," Gore said. "But Snyder is a vet and it will be fine."

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Ray Lewis suing bank over nearly $4 million in alleged investment losses

Retired Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis is among a group of 16 current and former NFL players who are suing BB&T Bank for nearly $60 million in alleged investment losses.

The Baltimore Sun has obtained a copy of the lawsuit, which was first reported by Yahoo! Sports. The lawsuit alleges that Lewis, a two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year who retired following the Ravens' Super Bowl XLVII victory in February, lost $3.778 million.

Lewis' agent, David Dunn, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

In addition to Lewis, former Ravens linebacker Tavares Gooden allegedly lost $515,000 through an unauthorized bank transfer, according to the lawsuit.
Several NFL players are accusing the bank of allowing disgraced financial advisor Jeff Rubin and his former firm, Pro Sports Financial, to open accounts in their names and place tens of millions of dollars in unauthorized investments. The majority of the money went to a failed casino bingo project in Alabama that was deemed illegal under Alabama law in July of 2012.

"While we have not had the opportunity to review the allegations in detail, we understand this case concerns actions taken by BankAtlantic prior to its acquisition by BB&T in 2012," David R. White, BB&T's vice president of corporate communications, told Yahoo. "Because this is pending litigation, we cannot comment further."  

Rubin, whose firm provided financial-related services to professional athletes, has since been banned from the securities industry.

The other NFL players who are plaintiffs in the lawsuit and the money allegedly lost by each individual includes: former Atlanta Falcons defensive end Jamaal Anderson ($5.813 million), former St. Louis Rams and Tennessee Titans offensive guard Jacob Bell $3.339 million), former wide receiver Derrick Gaffney (2.295 million), San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore ($8.745 million), New York Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes ($1.159 million), linebacker Greg Jones $2.006 million), former Titans and Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Jevon Kearse ($7.958 million), former Washington Redskins defensive end Kenard Lang ($1.648 million), Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather ($3.645 million), Redskins wide receiver Santana Moss ($4.852 million), former Redskins running back Clinton Portis ($3.136 million), former Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Lito Sheppard ($5.011 million), former Jacksonville Jaguars and New England Patriots running back Fred Taylor ($2.993 million) and former Cleveland Browns and Patriots defensive tackle Gerard Warren ($3 million).

The lawsuit alleges that BB&T developed a "close business relationship with Pro Sports, Rubin and other Pro Sports employees," including a special division "dedicated to targeting and servicing athletes and others in the sports industry,"

According to the lawsuit, Pro Sports deposited tens of millions of dollars of the plaintiffs' money in BB&T accounts opened and maintained in the plaintiffs' names with "illegitimate accounts that were opened with signature cards containing signatures that were forged by Pro Sports’ employees."

"After the monies were deposited, BB&T allowed numerous unusual, suspicious and extraordinary withdrawals from accounts opened in the name of each plaintiff that were neither within the scope of the service identified in the client services agreement nor authorized by the plaintiff in whose name the account was opened," the lawsuit alleges. "BB&T had actual knowledge that certain transactions on the plaintiffs’ accounts were unauthorized and exceeded the scope of the plaintiffs’ client service agreements with Pro Sports."

Former Ravens cornerback Duane Starks also had a relationship with Rubin’s firm.

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Frank Gore is Running Through Age Barrier

The 49ers’ running back of the future is waiting in the wings in rookie Marcus Lattimore, but there’s certainly no guarantee that future will be in 2014. Meanwhile, two younger, quicker backs on this year’s roster – Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James – rarely get enough game action to get tired.

The reason? Old Man Frank Gore seems to be anything but old.

Gore, who celebrated his 30th birthday in May, is having one of the best seasons of his nine-year NFL career at an age when most backs start heading downhill.

NFL history is filled with tales of elite running backs suddenly becoming shadows of themselves at 30, as time, thousands of hits and injuries take their toll.
As NFL analyst Tristan H. Cockroft wrote a few years ago, “I’ve run the numbers and I’ve rarely seen a theory in sports that has stronger statistical evidence than this one: NFL running backs hit a wall once they turn 30. Nay, they hit a concrete wall, and it practically stops them flat.”

Yet Gore, at the halfway point of this 2013 season, is the outlier.

As the 49ers (6-2) catch a break at midseason with their bye week – before resuming their schedule Nov. 10 against the Carolina Panthers at Candlestick Park – Gore ranks third in the NFL with 618 yards, is third with 146 carries, is second with seven rushing TDs and leads all players (including quarterbacks) with seven runs of 20 or more yards.

As Bill Williamson of wrote this week, Gore in many ways is on his way to a career year.

After stumbling twice in their first three games, the 49ers reverted to a run-first offensive game plan that features giving the ball to Gore early and often and letting him pick up yards behind one of the NFL’s best offensive lines. He’s on pace for 1,236 yards, 292 carries and 14 touchdowns. The rushing and carries totals would rank as the second best of his career and the TDs would be a career high (his best total was 10 in 2009).

Even more telling than Gore’s numbers is the fact the 49ers knew they had to start giving the ball to Gore more after their 1-2 start. The Niners may have a dynamic young quarterback, but Gore has been the foundation for San Francisco’s offense for many years, and offensive coordinator Greg Roman knew it was time to start feeding him the ball – even if he is over 30. Roman and his teammates knew from training camp that Gore hadn’t lost a step.

“We definitely want to get Frank Gore going,” Roman told reporters early this season. “Frank Gore’s one of the best backs in the league and one of our leaders. … Frank Gore’s going to be a big part of what we do this year. Frank churning out those yards for us is very important to our success.”

Since then, that’s exactly what Gore has done.

Not only has he been a key to the running game, but his work ethic has inspired his teammates and his ability as a receiver and pass blocker – the 49ers rank him as perhaps the best pass-protection blocker among all NFL backs – hasn’t gone overlooked.

Before the season began, Gore said he’d heard all the talk about his age and that this might be the start of his decline. When a preseason rating of the best players in the league put him at No. 32, he took it personally and said he was determined this season to show he’s as good as ever.

“They said he’s turning 30 and he might not have (any) more left,” Gore said. “I like that type of stuff. Whenever (the 49ers) let me get on the field, I’m going to go hard and prove everybody wrong again.”

So far, so good.

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Frank Gore getting better at age of 30

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Apparently, no one has informed Frank Gore he turned 30 in May.

Turning 30 is generally considered the beginning-of-the-end birthday for NFL running backs. Often, great running backs see their production drop dramatically after their 30th birthday.

But halfway into the 2013 season, that is the not the case with Gore. In fact, in many ways, he's on pace for a career year.

Through eight weeks, Gore has 618 yards on 146 carries with seven touchdowns. Gore is on pace for 1,236 yards, 292 carries and 14 touchdowns. Remarkably, Gore is on pace for the most carries since he had 312 in 2006 -- at age 23. His projected yardage total would be the second highest of his career. His highest rushing touchdown total is 10, gained during the 2009 season.

His teammates and coaches are marveling at Gore, who has been the offensive spark-plug during the 49ers' 6-2 start. Going into the season, the 49ers wanted him to be Frank Gore-like. Instead, he is giving them vintage Frank Gore as he enters the fourth decade of his life.

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Frank Gore scores on 19-yard run (GIF)


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Frank Gore moving up the all-time lists

San Francisco running back Frank Gore has surpassed former 49ers running back Roger Craig for 4th all-time in team history in career touchdowns with 67.

Gore surpassed Craig at the 7:25 mark of the third quarter on a 1-yard jaunt that put the 49ers up 24-0 over the Tennessee Titans.  He also scored earlier in the game – also on a 1-yard run.

Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice, of course, holds the all-time team record with 187 career touchdowns, and the all-time NFL career touchdown record with 207.  Fellow wide receiver Terrell Owens is second in 49ers history with 83, and Hall of Famer Joe Perry is third with 80.

Frank Gore is in his 9th season with the San Francisco 49ers and is already the team’s all-time leading rusher with 9,316 yards.  He sits second on the all-time team list behind Perry for rushing touchdowns, who had 68.

Gore has surpassed the 1000 yard rushing mark in 6 of his 8 seasons as a professional, and appears to be on his way to another such season.

The University of Miami product has been elected to the Pro Bowl 4 times and is third on the active career rushing yards list behind Steven Jackson (10,212) and Adrian Peterson (9,332).

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The Titans, Frank Gore and … bags of dung

The Titans rank second in the NFL in turnover differential and a key to their success has been their ability to force fumbles: Tennessee is tied for fourth in the league in fumbles caused (11) and recovered (7).

Their success at stripping the ball has caught the attention of Jim Harbaugh in advance of the 49ers’ visit to Nashville on Sunday.

“They’re the best we’ve seen at clubbing, punching, stripping, lawn-mowering, just lodging it out from opponents,” Harbaugh told the Tennessee media. “It’s always a critical thing to our well-being to have ball security and not turn the ball over. It’s emphasized weekly, daily, but, yes, this week we have to emphasize it even more.”

On Sunday, running back Frank Gore figures to test Tennessee’s ability to club, punch, strip and, yes, lawn-mower. In 103 carries this season, Gore has lost just one fumble. That came when he had the ball punched out from behind by Rams linebacker Alec Ogletree at the end of a 13-yard run in Week 4.

That was a lost fumble on the stat sheet. In Harbaugh’s parlance, however, letting your guard down and allowing a defender to force a fumble is, well … let’s just have Jim explain: “When that happens to Frank, you’re not going to sneak up on Frank again and hit him over the head with a bag of dung a second time.”
Based on recent history, Harbaugh is correct: Gore was walloped upside the helmet with a sack of stinky stuff (read: lost a fumble) just once in 2012.

In fact, Gore, who was known as a fumbler early in his career, has become quite sure-handed. His only lost fumble last year – in a Week 3 loss at Minnesota – snapped a career-best streak in which he hadn’t lost a fumble in 255 touches.

In the past, Harbaugh has credited running backs coach Tom Rathman for teaching proper ball-carrying fundamentals, saying he does “as good a job any of us have ever seen done in that regard.”

The numbers suggest Rathman knows what he’s doing.

In his first four seasons, Gore averaged a fumble every 61.7 offensive touches (18 in 1,111). Since Rathman joined the staff in 2009, Gore has averaged a fumble every 94.1 touches (13 in 1,223). Similarly, Rathman appears to have helped cure Kendall Hunter’s college case of fumbleitis. Hunter, who had 10 fumbles at Oklahoma State, has one fumble in 241 offensive touches in his NFL career.

Gore and Hunter’s ability to hold onto the ball figures to be tested against the Titans, who are adept at lawn-mowering, perhaps the second-best offering from Harbaugh’s lexicon this week.

“(Securing the ball is) always a special point of emphasis, always something that is vital, critical to a team’s well-being,” Harbaugh said. “… If it’s 10 out of 10 every week, it’s 11 out of 10 this week. It’s very important.”

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One secret to 49er Frank Gore’s continued success

When the 49ers took then University of Miami running back Frank Gore in the third round of the 2005 draft – then coach Mike Nolan believed Gore’s career could be brilliant but brief.

Citing his two knee constructions in college, Nolan never envisioned Gore rushing for back-to-back 1,200-yard seasons in Gore’s 7th and 8th years in the league. In truth, no one could predict that for Gore or any other running back.

The secret to Gore’s improbable longevity?


While training in his native Miami for the last two years, Gore hits the mitts with fellow boxers at a local gym. And as this video reflects, he makes it look like he’s a pro. So could boxing be Gore’s next career?

“No,” he said. “It’s different when you are hitting the mitts than when you are fighting, especially with somebody who has been doing it all their life.”

However, Gore is likely to keep up his pugilistic training because its stop-and-start nature readies him for his own sport.

“It’s like three minutes on, 30 seconds rest,” he said. “It’s like football.”

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Frank Gore trying to build running game back up

Wearing a gray San Francisco 49ers hoodie, soft-spoken running back Frank Gore walked around team headquarters with a familiar smile and strut Thursday.

Gore is in good spirits again, and so are the 49ers (2-2) entering Sunday night's game against the Houston Texans (2-2) at Candlestick Park. Gore gashed St. Louis for 153 yards on 20 carries in San Francisco's 35-11 rout of the Rams last week to snap a two-game losing skid and a rare running funk.

"We got back to being us," Gore said.

While much of the attention had been on quarterback Colin Kaepernick this season, San Francisco struggled to get the ground game going behind Gore.

Gore ran for just 144 yards the first three weeks combined, his worst start to a season since becoming the team's featured back in 2006. Questions started to bubble up about whether the 30-year-old running back, who has had surgeries on both knees going back to his college days at Miami, was wearing down.

Instead, San Francisco gave Gore as many carries against St. Louis as he had the previous two weeks. All he did was run for more yards than he had since Dec. 14, 2009, when he racked up 167 against Arizona on Monday Night Football.

"We know he's capable of that, he knows he's capable of that and our offensive line knows he's capable of that," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "No question that everybody's inspired by what he does. Nobody does it like Frank Gore."

Perhaps no player has contributed to San Francisco's success more than Gore the past three seasons.

With Gore anchoring a power running game, the 49ers have been among the NFL's top rushing teams since Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman revamped the unit after taking control in 2011. During Harbaugh's tenure, San Francisco is 9-0 when Gore runs for at least 100 yards.

Gore was fifth in the NFC with 1,214 yards rushing and his 4.7-yard average ranked sixth in the NFL last season to help carry San Francisco to the Super Bowl, where the 49ers lost to the Baltimore Ravens. Gore also was the league leader in rushing (319 yards) and rushing touchdowns (4) in the postseason.

This year had been a different story until last week.

San Francisco still ranks ninth in yards rushing (524) mainly because of the 140 yards Kaepernick has gained on scrambles. But the running game has shown little depth so far.

Backup Kendall Hunter, coming back from a torn Achilles tendon that ended his season last year, has just 80 yards rushing through four games. And LaMichael James, who missed time with a knee injury, had three carries for no yards against St. Louis.

"The more we stay on the field, the more we can utilize those weapons," Roman said about Hunter and James. "So it's definitely a function of how many plays you're running, how many opportunities you have during a game and try to forecast that when you're putting a plan together."

Gore has made it clear he wants more running plays. He suggested that the 49ers had become too reliant on passing after a home loss to Indianapolis in Week 3, when he was held to 12 yards on three carries in the second half.

The team's longtime workhorse in the backfield said getting "back to basics" against St. Louis showed that the power running game, while not as flashy, is still San Francisco's winning formula.

"Just call plays and let us go out there man on man and let the best man win," Gore said.

That challenge is not getting any easier this week.

Houston is anchored by reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt. The Texans are 10th against the run, allowing 113.2 yards per game, with Watt moving all over to keep linemen guessing.

"Other than the Super Bowl," 49ers guard Alex Boone said, "I'd say this is a (tougher) test."

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Frank Gore denies that he yelled at Jim Harbaugh

SANTA CLARA — Frank Gore disputed a report that he yelled at coach Jim Harbaugh late in the 49ers' loss Sunday and that he, along with his teammates, were all upset at the 27-7 outcome.

"I like Coach Harbaugh a lot. No issues," Gore said Tuesday. "No, I'm cool with Harbaugh. That's not me."

Gore had no carries after the second half's opening series, and he finished with a season-high 82 rushing yards.'s Kevin Lynch tweeted after the game that Gore had "choice words" with Harbaugh on the sideline in the closing moments, and that sparked several reports of a feud that Gore says is non-existant.

"I just wanted to win, to get that nasty taste (of a previous loss) out of our mouth," Gore said.

Although Gore debuted on this week's injury report with a (left) knee ailment, he said he's "cool" and ready to go Thursday against the host St. Louis Rams.
Gore did not criticize his lack of carries in Sunday's second half, when the 49ers instead became more pass-oriented and thus used him on pass protection or short routes.

The 49ers racked up 34 points and 494 yards of offense in their opening win over the Green Bay Packers. But in two ensuing blowout losses to the Seahawks and Colts, they've totaled 10 points and 461 yards, combined.

"We've just got to get back to us, and being one," Gore said. "We'll be fine. We feel we can do whatever we want, like before."

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Frank Gore reportedly yelled at Jim Harbaugh after 49ers loss

For the first time in Coach Jim Harbaugh’s three seasons, the San Francisco 49ers have lost consecutive games.

The frustration of falling to the Indianapolis Colts showed after Sunday’s 27-7 defeat at Candlestick Park, when, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, running back Frank Gore yelled angrily at Harbaugh while they walked off the field.

Gore finished with 11 carries for 82 yards, but most of that came in the first half. After halftime, he had three carries for 12 yards.

“When things are not going right you get frustrated,” Gore said after the game.
"But, I think the game kind of got different in the second half and we had to do what we had to do, just throw the ball. And that’s what it was.”

Harbaugh wasn’t asked about Gore in his postgame media session, but he was asked whether the 49ers were lacking in energy.

“You can question just about everything right now,” he said. “We didn’t play well enough to win in enough areas on enough downs. Did not win the down enough. Not even closely. They did, they made the plays offensively, defensively and we did not.”

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Frank Gore says 49ers' opponents focusing on stopping the run

SANTA CLARA — Frank Gore maintains teams are loading up to stop the 49ers' running game early in the season. But in the same breath, he added it's no excuse for his poor production so far and that it's the team's top offensive priority to get fixed.

Gore has just 60 yards rushing on 30 carries in two games — a 2.0 yard-per-carry average — and his longest gain is just eight yards. The 49ers as a team are ranked 17th in the league in rushing, and wouldn't be nearly that good if not for the yards quarterback Colin Kaepernick has amassed.

"We have to get better in the running game," Gore said Wednesday. "We have to get it done. There are lot of teams playing us (tough) we still have to find a way to get it done."

So what are opponents doing differently?

"They know that in past years we have run the ball great," he said. "You watch the film and you see eight or nine men in the box. That's one of the biggest things, but we have to find a way."

Fullback Bruce Miller there's nothing too scientific about what the 49ers must do to establish the run.

"It's about execution, winning one-on-one battles, communicating better and playing together as a unit," Miller said. "We have seen some different things, some movement up front, and we just have to follow our rules and execute better."

Miller admitted Gore hasn't been in the best of moods after two lackluster performances by the backfield.

"It's tough on Frank, because that's our guy, that's our workhorse," he said. "He puts the team on his back and he carries us most of the time. To be struggling right now as a group ... it's not Frank, Frank's one of the best in the league. I think it's more us, and him being patient. I don't know if he's getting frustrated with what's gong on, but he has to continue to be patient and we'll get it going and execute better."

Miller admitted his drop early in the Seattle defeat may have been a game-changer and the holding penalty he received that resulted in a safety was also a contributing factor to San Francisco's lopsided defeat.

"I should have had that one," he said. "In that type of game on the road, you have to make those plays and it wasn't made. Kap put it there for me to make it and I just have to make them."

Of the holding penalty that resulted in the safety, Miller said, "I definitely have to do better with my hands. I thought initially I had him blocked, but when he started to spin I kind of panicked and wrapped him up. It felt different in the game than it looked on film. I just have to do better finishing the play."

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Frank Gore Remains Patient with Run Game

Both skill sets have been tested in the first two weeks of the 2013 regular season.

Through two weeks, Gore is averaging a career-low 2.0 yards per carry. The 49ers all-time leader in carries, rushing yards and rushing touchdowns has carried the ball 30 times for 60 yards and has one touchdown on the ground.

As a whole, San Francisco ranks tied for 17th in rushing the football, posting 190 rushing yards in two games. Colin Kaepernick, the dual-threat quarterback, leads the team with 109 of those yards.

For his part in the equation, Gore is keeping a team-first outlook on his production. Green Bay and Seattle, San Francisco’s first two opponents, have crowded the box to disrupt the 49ers powerful running game. The 49ers felt crowded running lanes at times last season, but ultimately finished 2012 with the league’s No. 4 overall rushing offense.

“It’s tough on Frank because that’s our guy, that’s our workhorse,” fullback Bruce Miller said on Wednesday. “He puts the team on his back and he carries us most of the time. To be struggling right now as a group, it’s not Frank; Frank is one of the best in the league. I think it’s more us, the guys up front.

“I know he’s getting frustrated with what’s going on, but he has to continue to be patient and we’ll get it better and execute better.”

Gore's likely going to be the second-most talked-about running back on the field at Candlestick Park. With the Indianpolis Colts trading a first-round draft pick to the Cleveland Browns for running back Trent Richardson, all eyes will be on the second-year pro's Indianapolis debut.

Gore was on the practice field at the time of the Colts trade, but he'll simply continue to go about his business and not dwell on the opposition's running back. Gore's focus is another aspect of his game that makes him unique.

The same way Gore attacks the line of scrimmage with calculated steps looking to lower his shoulder and dart through the opposition, is the way the 49ers running back has to approach the regular season as a whole.

San Francisco’s Week 3 challenge features several familiar names to Gore. Most notably, the 49ers running back is well aware of the defensive coordinator he’ll face, Greg Manusky, San Francisco’s defensive play-caller from 2007-10.

Gore is also familiar with Colts starting defensive tackle, Ricky Jean Francois, a Miami native who trained with Gore in previous offseasons. Even so, Gore feels like those prior relationships won't matter in his production.

“I don’t care what they do,” said Gore with a stern look. “It’s about us. We have to get better.”

Gore has a rushing touchdown in five of his last six games against AFC opponents. So while he’s concentrating on continuing his success in non-conference games, Gore is really after picking up wins at this point of his career.

The nine-year pro said as much.

Coming off a 16-yard effort against Seattle on the road, Gore was more peeved about losing than his low rushing total.

“I’m frustrated by the loss, really. We have to get better in the running game,” Gore, 30, said. “We have to get it done. There are a lot of teams playing us (tough), we still have to find a way to get it done.”

Miller, too, is confident the 49ers can clean up mistakes in the running game by winning one-on-one battles in the trenches.

“We have to all work together and play as a group, one unit, and have to make the blocks,” the third-year pro said.

Gore expects teams to keep surrounding the box with eight and nine defenders as long as he’s on the field.

If that’s the case this week, Gore is prepared to showcase his determination and patience.

“We have to find a way,” he said. “We have to get it done.”

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Frank Gore Gave Words of Encouragement to Lamar Miller

Lamar Miller received words of encouragement by phone from Frank Gore after Miller’s poor opener Sunday (10 carries, 3 yards). “He said things will work out," Miller said. "I could have run harder. [But] it doesn’t affect my confidence because I know what I’m capable of.” 

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Frank Gore Is (Still) Ready To Rumble

Now in his ninth year in the league, San Francisco running back Frank Gore is showing no signs of slowing down.

The veteran took a handoff on the 49ers' first offensive play, suckered the entire Chiefs defense into flowing to its left, and then made a nifty cutback. Gore started to pick up speed as he rolled around the opposite side, and then hit full stride in the open field.

If not for a nice play by Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers to slow him up, Gore may have taken it the distance. As it was, the four-time Pro Bowler had to settle for a 52-yard gain.

"That was Frank being Frank," Kaepernick said. "He's a great running back. Our offensive line did a great job. They were downfield getting blocks and the receivers were getting blocks. "

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Frank Gore has a formula for success

By any measure, 49ers running back Frank Gore has been enormously successful. Gore would be part of the 49ers’ Mount Rushmore during the era of 49ers history in which he has played. What’s notable about the 30-year-old Gore as he enters his eighth season as a still-productive-running-back is how much he hasn’t changed over his career.

Gore said success depends on a few simple pillars – Work hard and train, listen to the coaches, compete and have fun. Do those things Gore said and, “You’ll be fine.”

As Gore grows in stature within the NFL, and particularly within his own team, he doesn’t feel anymore pressure to become more of a vocal leader.

“I’m the same,” Gore said. “If I have to say something, I will say something. It’s the same way with (wide receiver) Anquan Boldin, he’s not a vocal person, but he works and he has had a nice career.”

Boldin also has what Gore covets, a Super Bowl ring.

“My career at this point is about winning,” Gore said. “The last two years here have been fun for me. They have been the best years of my career.”

Gore is now surrounded by like-minded teammates – players who are talented and dedicated. That wasn’t the case when he first became a starter seven seasons ago. After a galling loss, he ventured into the players’ parking lot and saw some of his teammates laughing and joking. Gore immediately started crying and openly wondered what kind of team he was on.

So while Gore hasn’t changed, his team and his teammates have.

“It’s different now,” Gore said, before disappearing into the locker room with his position coach, Tom Rathman. “We expect to win.”

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Frank Gore finally accepts lesser role

San Francisco 49ers RB Frank Gore has his snaps regulated last season, as he finally accepted he is more valuable to the team in the long term if he gives up a few carries to his backups. He is still expected to be capable of at least 1,200 rushing yards, but RBs LaMichael James and Kendall Hunter are expected to playing larger roles in the offense.

Gore remains a low-end RB1 for fantasy purposes, but his days as an early first-round draft pick are well over.

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Frank Gore and DeMarcus Van Dyke put in extra work

Erica A. Hernandez- Sun Sentinel

Frank Gore, at 5 feet 9, isn’t the tallest player in the NFL, but he had a few feet on the people he was surrounded by at the Michael-Ann Russell Jewish Community Center.

The former Miami Hurricane walked in the front door Tuesday decked out in his black and red San Francisco 49ers gear and made his way through the summer campers to the back of the center, where Bommarito Performance Systems (BPS) is housed.

On the artificial turf, Gore was more at home amongst his own. The 30-year-old running back joined a group of about 10 other running backs and 30 other NFL players for the start of training.

“This is a good sports complex that has everything that we need,” said owner Pete Bommarito. “But we really like the community they’ve built within this Jewish community center.”

Bommarito started his company in 2004 after working at the IMG Sports Academy in Bradenton. The center has two locations, one in Davie and the main location in North Miami Beach within the Jewish Community Center. Bommarito says most players attend training at the Miami Beach location because it’s bigger and centrally located.

With about 75 employees at both locations, BPS helps athletes with training in footwork, strength endurance, power, agility, movement, position work and aquatics. The center also offers nutritional guidance from a private chef, physical therapy, massage therapy, chiropractics and Pilates and yoga classes.

The company also has programs for youths, high school and college athletes. Most recently, BPS hosted and trained Plantation’s Sloane Stephens before her Wimbledon outing.

It’s the center’s NFL draft prep that Bommarito credits with drawing NFL players back for year-round training. It’s what drew Gore to Bommarito after graduating from Miami. Gore went through Bommarito’s draft prep before being drafted by San Francisco in 2005.

“I look like I’m in shape, right?” Gore asked with a chuckle. “I feel great, I feel good … and I’m the oldest one out here now.”

Gore is part of a large group of running backs who turn to BPS in addition to their training regimen. Running backs Maurice Jones-Drew (Jaguars), Jonathan Dwyer and Le’Veon Bell (Steelers), Rashad Jennings (Raiders), Andre Brown (Giants), Isaiah Pead (Rams), Ahmad Bradshaw (Colts), Ben Tate (Texans), Giovanni Bernard (Bengals), Jonathan Stewart (Panthers), Mikel Leshoure (Lions) and Lamar Miller (Dolphins) are all a part of this summer’s crew.

“Seeing all the guys I compete against, a young batch, I can compare my speed and my quickness against their quickness. It lets me know that I’ve got a lot more left in my tank,” Gore said.

“Pete is a good guy, he’s helped me out a lot,” Gore said. “I like coming out here to compete and see other top guys who have been successful in the league. I can compare my talent to their talent to get me ready for the season.”

Besides the running backs, BPS sees its fair share of former Hurricane players.

Along with Gore and Miller, former Hurricane and current Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke was one of the first players out on the turf Tuesday. He was joined by his cousin, David Van Dyke, a Tennessee State University defensive back and Booker T. Washington graduate.

“It’s legit, it’s always high intensity with Pete,” DeMarcus Van Dyke said. “It’s the best of both worlds training down here: I’ve got my family, the great weather and the beaches.”

Like Gore, it was Bommarito’s draft prep that brought Van Dyke to the center in 2011.

Bommarito Performance has trained more than 200 NFL players.

In the weeks before NFL training camps officially start, Bommarito had almost the entire Baltimore Ravens team out on the turf and in the weight rooms of the community center. The team departed from Miami at the beginning of the second week in July to attend longtime Bommarito trainee Torrey Smith’s wedding on July 11.

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Another 49er supporting Miami, Gore helping Miller develop

San Francisco 49ers starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick adamantly defended his right to wear a Dolphins hat a week ago. Now, starting running back Frank Gore is in Miami, personally helping the team's running back improve.
During a period of six weeks usually reserved for NFL vacations -- and legal problems -- Gore is doing two-a-days with Lamar Miller and reports indicate the 22-year-old Dolphins running back is benefiting significantly.

"It has been great working with Frank, and it is going to help me in my game," Miller told the Miami Herald. "He has given me a lot of tips."

Miller reportedly joined Gore's offseason regimen at the advice of shared agent Drew Rosenhaus. Now, they are spending mornings working out with a group of players before splintering off to work with a trainer in the evenings.

Miller, who in one fewer season came up 57 yards and two touchdowns short of Gore's impressive Miami numbers, grew up less than 15 minutes from the man he idolized through college.

"I used to look up to all the UM running backs growing up because that’s where I wanted to go," Miller said. "I want to keep the legacy of the University of Miami going."

Former Hurricanes have a history of training together, and Gore and Miller's partnership hasn't gone unnoticed.

"The way Lamar is learning from Frank, it’s a beautiful thing," said Steelers' Sean Spence, who played two seasons at Miami with Miller.

Those who have trained Miller, according to the Herald, cite his improved "work ethic and mentality," say "his footwork got a lot better," and indicate he now knows "how to take care of his body (and) what to do beyond what is required."

The developed characteristics are all hallmarks of Gore's successful eight-year NFL career, in which he has averaged 4.6 yards per carry and over six touchdowns a season.

Miller is hoping the hard work will help him sustain his rookie success; he earned an average of 4.9 yards over 51 carries last year.

"I’ve gotten quicker doing lateral work," Miller was quoted. "And I’ve become more explosive by training every day doing squats on my legs. I’m stronger."

But his strength isn't what's turning heads in Florida -- it's his speed.

The list of accomplished backs produced by Miami is impressive, boasting the likes of Edgerrin James ('96-'98), Clinton Portis ('99-'01), Willis McGahee ('01-'02) and Gore ('01-'04). But the 49ers' 30-year-old feature back reserved the highest praise for Miller.

"Lamar is probably the fastest," Gore said. "And he’s a good kid. We motivate each other.”

As long as it's a two-way street, and 49ers fans don't feel like their players are offering unreciprocated support, there shouldn't be a problem -- especially when you consider all the other ways Gore could be spending his six weeks off before the team convenes in Santa Clara for training camp on July 24.

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RBs guru calls Lamar Miller 'the fastest running back I've ever seen'

With the Dolphins depth chart thinned after Reggie Bush's departure to the Lions, there are high expectations for second-year running back Lamar Miller. It sounds like the former Miami Hurricane is doing his best to fulfill them, too.

According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, Miller's in North Miami Beach being mentored by 49ers running back -- and fellow former 'Cane -- Frank Gore. The pair are working out twice daily along with other NFL players, including another former Hurricane: Steelers linebacker Sean Spence.

“The way Lamar is learning from Frank, it's a beautiful thing," Spence said.

The backs are also working with Pete Bommarito, who runs Bommarito Performance Systems and has trained a who's who list of running backs in the NFL. And Bommarito's praise of Miller is even higher.

“He's the fastest running back I've ever seen,” Bommarito said.

The trainer also noted that working with Gore has done positive things for Miller's "work ethic and mentality" toward the game of football.
“Since Lamar started gravitating toward Frank, his work ethic and mentality are unparalleled," Bommarito said.

It's easy to understand how working with Gore can help Miller: There's arguably not a more underrated running back in the league than Gore, and he also happens to be a guy who's been counted out and dismissed more times than you can count. He had multiple knee surgeries (right and left ACLs) in college, a slew of injuries in the pros, and people expected drop-offs in production every season. (And yet, since being named the 49ers starter, Gore has averaged 15 games, 1,176 yards and seven touchdowns a season.)

I digress, but you get the point here: Gore's a great role model. Per Bommarito, Gore's also showing Miller “how to take care of his body, what to do beyond what is required.”

So is the work paying off? Gore praised Miller, saying he's the "fastest" Hurricanes running back of the last 20 years (a group that includes Edgerrin James, Gore, Clinton Portis and Willis McGahee) and likened the youngster to Portis.

Miller says the result of his work with Gore is that he's "stronger" and "more explosive" than he was in his rookie season.

"I've gotten quicker doing lateral work, and I've become more explosive by training every day doing squats on my legs,” Miller said. "[And] I'm stronger. Last year, I was kind of lost getting adjusted to the speed of the game and knowing where I'm supposed to be at all times. Now I'm very comfortable with the system."
That's a terrifying thought for opponents looking to stop the second-year back. For the Dolphins, though, it provides early justification for their decision to let Bush walk on the open market and put their faith in a young running back who appears eager to live up to the expectations that surround his 2013 season.

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Frank Gore Fueled by Age Criticism

Frank Gore hears the comments of TV analysts speculating about his future. He has a good idea of what has been said and written as he enters his ninth season with the San Francisco 49ers.

Gore, 30, is well aware of critics downplaying his future production.

The 49ers all-time rushing king, however, is fueled by those negative words.

“I like it,” the 5-foot-9, 217-pound running back said at the end of veteran minicamp. “I like that type of stuff.”

Gore has kept tabs of his doubters throughout his NFL career. He never forgets those who question his ability to be a productive play-maker.

“I feel like every year is something with me,” said Gore, who noted he had to prove himself as a third-round draft pick entering the league in 2005 and once again after a fractured hip ended his 2010 season. “I’ve got to overcome everything, every year… I’m going to go hard and prove everybody again.”

Gore rushed for 1,214 yards and made the Pro Bowl for the fourth time in 2012. He continued his hard-running ways in the postseason to the tune of 319 rushing yards and four touchdowns for the NFC champions. Gore improved his yards per carry from 4.7 in the regular season to 5.1 yards per rush in the postseason. But even with the production, the NFL's talking heads want to know what Gore can do in his ninth season. Gore didn't carry the ball very often this offseason.

The aches and pains of a 19-game season lingered with the running back known for his aggressive running style in between the tackles. Gore didn’t participate in San Francisco’s mandatory minicamp, but did work sparingly during Organized Team Activities.

Gore said there’s nothing to worry about his absence at minicamp. According to Gore, it was the call of the team’s medical staff.

“I feel good,” the 49ers all-time leader in carries, rushing yards and rushing touchdowns said. “I’ve been here all offseason getting better with the team and getting ready for training camp.”

Gore admitted that the loss in Super Bowl XLVII lingered into the offseason, but started to fade away once he returned to the team’s Santa Clara headquarters to participate in the offseason strength program.

“It was tough,” Gore began, “but once I got back and working out, I got better with it.

“I’m happy to be back. I’m seeing all the guys working and we’ll try to get back to where we left off last year.”

Most notably, Gore has been pleased to see the leadership of third-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

“He did a lot when he got his opportunity and he took advantage of it,” Gore said of San Francisco’s starter. “He had a great run and we’re looking to see him do even more this year.”

Gore praised Kaepernick’s unique running style and how it opened up inside running lanes in the late stages of season. Opponents had to respect the running threat Kaepernick presented in San Francisco’s “Pistol” formations. Gore thrived in the new running system, showcasing his adaptability and usefulness in the process.

“With a new offense I think Kap freed me up a lot,” Gore said. “I’ll be fine this year.”

Come September, the 49ers running back will look to prove his age won't factor into continuing his role as one of San Francisco's feared offensive weapons.

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Frank Gore inspired by critics

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Frank Gore doesn't see turning 30 as a bad thing, even if it's the age when most NFL running backs start to decline.

If anything, the San Francisco 49ers' career rushing leader has embraced the milestone and sees it as another means of motivation.

"I love it," Gore said Thursday outside of the 49ers' locker room. "I feel like every year it's something with me. I have to overcome everything, every year. Now that I'm 30 I just have to keep working and training hard."

Not that Gore has ever needed extra incentive.

Whether it was being bypassed in the 2005 draft when he was the sixth running back selected or the string of injuries he's endured and overcome since then, Gore has always felt the need to prove people wrong.

The 49ers clearly know Gore's value and have limited his participation in the offseason workouts, including this week's three-day minicamp.

San Francisco hopes the time off will help keep Gore fresher for the regular season. He's topped 1,000 yards in six of the last seven years but he's also had a tendency to wear down late in the season.

Since the end of the 2009 season, Gore has failed to record a 100-yard game in the months of November and December. He rebounded to top that mark twice in the playoffs last season, including in the 49ers' Super Bowl loss to Baltimore when Gore ran for 110 yards and a touchdown.

That wasn't enough to silence the critics. And when Gore turned 30 on May 14, the doubters seemed to increase.

Even his spot on a recently released list of the top 100 players in the NFL didn't sit well with the ninth-year veteran. Gore was No. 32.

"They said he's turning 30 and he might not have (any) more left," Gore said. "I like that type of stuff. Whenever (the 49ers) let me get on the field, I'm going to go hard and prove everybody wrong again."

Just when Gore will be on the field is the question.

While he's done some light individual work, the 49ers have not let him take part in any on-field practices. He was a spectator at practice Thursday and likely won't put on pads until San Francisco opens training camp in July.

That led to speculation that Gore might be nursing an injury. But when questioned about it on Thursday, Gore was as elusive as he has been on the field.

"I'm cool, I'm good," he said. "I'm just listening to (head trainer Jeff Ferguson). He told me he didn't want me doing anything right now, and I'm listening. I'm just getting my body back. I want to be fresh whenever I get back on the field."

Keeping Gore fresh is critical considering the health of some of San Francisco's other running backs.

Kendall Hunter, the top backup behind Gore, is still mending from a torn Achilles tendon he suffered last season. Rookie Marcus Lattimore, one of the team's two fourth-round draft picks, is also trying to come back after an injury-plagued college career that included a career-threatening right knee injury in 2012.

Gore and Lattimore have formed a kinship of sorts because of their similar histories. Gore suffered serious injuries to both knees while in college before rebounding to become a four-time Pro Bowl running back for the 49ers.

"He's a good kid," Gore said of Lattimore. "I went through the same thing, being one of the best backs at the school and getting drafted late in the rounds and you don't know if you could get back to (being) you. I'm pulling for him."

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Frank Gore Joins NFL Top 100

The San Francisco 49ers have a league-high nine players on the NFL Network’s Top 100 Players of 2013 list.

Pro Bowl running back Frank Gore was the latest member of the team to be named. The hard-nosed runner, picked at spot No. 32 by his NFL peers, joins Anquan Boldin (93), Colin Kaepernick (81), Joe Staley (78), Vernon Davis (38) and NaVorro Bowman (37) on the list.

“Frank’s one of the best players I’ve ever been around,” Staley, the 49ers left tackle said. “His heart, his drive, the way he plays the game with so much passion, he really gets this offense going.”

Gore stands as the franchise’s all-time leader in rushing attempts (1,911), rushing yards (8,839) and rushing touchdowns (51). Gore earned his fourth Pro Bowl nod in 2012 and logged his sixth, 1,000-yard rushing season.

He has the most 100-yard and 150-yard rushing games in San Francisco history, too.

The 49ers rushing king continues to earn recognition from his peers for being one of the most impressive runners in the NFL. Gore stands out as one of the most complete running backs in the NFL. Gore’s ability to be a third-down back has been his calling card through nine seasons in the league.

Plus, Gore’s leg drive, low center of gravity and pass-catching ability make him one of the most feared play-makers out of the backfield.

Gore also doesn’t hurry. He wisely chooses how to attack.

“He’s probably the most patient running back in the game,” Denver Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey said. “He’ll sit behind the line and let those holes open up.”

Gore’s running style is also a hit in the 49ers film room.

“There are times where everybody in the film room is in awe of what he just did,” teammate Kyle Williams said.

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Frank Gore on list of sidelined 49ers

Running back Frank Gore hasn’t had surgery and he isn’t rehabbing an injury from last year, but he was on an elliptical alongside Staley during Tuesday’s practice. Coach Jim Harbaugh offered no details about the nature of the issue that Gore is dealing with, saying only that he doesn’t believe the running back has a major injury.

“Just working through something,” Harbaugh said, via Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee. “Nothing too serious.”

Assuming Harbaugh’s diagnosis is correct, this might be a good thing for Gore when all is said and done. Gore’s running style and heavy usage mean that he has taken a beating over the course of his eight-year career, so there’s not much downside to a little extra rest in the offseason after playing in every game over the last two years.

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Frank Gore Sets RB Standard

Only three of the 26 running backs selected in the 2005 NFL Draft are still in the league.

Furthermore, only one of them stands as his franchise leader in three major stat categories: carries, rushing yards and rushing touchdowns.

Enter San Francisco 49ers workhorse Frank Gore.

The former third-round pick, who was the sixth running back drafted in 2005, has more rushing yards than any of his draft class counterparts and still carries the chip on his shoulder from being passed up at the draft. Gore, a four-time Pro Bowl running back, has gained 8,839 rushing yards in eight seasons.

“Nobody expected me to be in the league this long," Gore told after a recent workout at 49ers headquarters.

Only Brandon Jacobs and Marion Barber have more touchdowns than Gore and both remain unsigned. With just six more touchdowns this season, Gore will lead his draft class in that category too.

The recently turned 30-year-old running back has been on a blistering pace to start his career with the 49ers and doesn’t plan on slowing down any time soon. Gore has eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark in six out of eight seasons. He finished 2012, his fourth Pro Bowl season, with 1,214 rushing yards. With 37 more yards on the ground, Gore will pass Roger Craig to rank second all-time on San Francisco’s yards from scrimmage list.

At that point, Gore would only trail Hall of Fame wider receiver Jerry Rice.

It's been an already historic career for Gore in San Francisco. The hard-nosed running back slipped to the third round in 2005 because of medical concerns about his knees. Looking back, the draft-day slide might have been a blessing in disguise. Gore came into the NFL motivated to prove critics wrong.

"Every year in my career, it's been 'when' and 'if' I'll slow down," Gore said. "I look at it as a challenge."

Gore hasn't just accepted the challenge, he's used it to become one of the NFL’s top running backs. After turning 30 on May 14, there's still plenty Gore wants to accomplish.

"I want to show I'm not going by what people say about being a certain age - when you're 29 or 30, you can't do it anymore,” Gore said. “As long as I'm working, healthy and able to play this game, I can do a great job."

When Gore came to San Francisco, he split carries with running backs Kevan Barlow and Maurice Hicks. Neither Barlow or Hicks were proven NFL veterans, forcing Gore to find his own example of how to be successful.

"I didn't have anybody to look up to," Gore said. "I'm not talking bad about any of the guys who were here before me. I just didn't have a guy who had success in the league.”

Instead, Gore has provided that example for the rest of the 49ers running backs. Anthony Dixon, Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James constantly speak highly, not only for his ability on the field, but what he means to the entire group off the field.

Now, Gore has a new protégé in fourth-round draft pick Marcus Lattimore.

Like Gore, Lattimore had to fight through knee injuries in college, including a gruesome injuryagainst Tennessee in 2012. Lattimore tore three ligaments on an open-field tackle and was out for the season.

It was no surprise that Gore wanted to reach out to Lattimore after being put in contact by teammate, Chris Culliver, a former South Carolina cornerback.

"It's similar to what I went through," Gore said. "That's the main reason I called him when it happened. I wanted to reach out to him and tell him to keep his head up."

While Gore lacked role models when he came to San Francisco, Lattimore has a perfect example in the 49ers four-time Pro Bowler.

Even with his continued success, Gore continues to be a leader both on the field and in the classroom.

"It doesn't matter what you've done," Gore said. "I could easily be in practice, not doing this or not doing that. I think my teammates respect me because even though I've had success, I still treat everyone the right way. They see me practice and I practice hard. I'm paying attention in the classroom, too. They're able to see me being a pro."


Gore's advice didn't stop after his initial phone call to Lattimore. The two are often together during offseason practices, watching plays and taking mental reps. Gore makes sure Lattimore is able to make the most out of practice, even though he’s not able to participate.

If Lattimore is able to follow Gore's lead, maybe his name can also stand out from the other 2013 class of running backs.

"I think that Marcus will have a fine career,” Gore said. “I think he'll have a better pro career than college. He only really played one full year in college. He can't help what happened with his knees. I just feel like once he gets back on his feet, he'll be fine."

The chart above shows how Gore's career rushing yards stack up against the rest of the 2005 running back class. Only the next 10 closest to Gore are shown.
Ronnie Brown and Darren Sproles are the only other two running backs remaining in the NFL. Brown and Sproles have combined for 46 total career rushing touchdowns, five fewer than Gore.

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Lamar Miller working out with fellow proCane Frank Gore

Miami Dolphins RB Lamar Miller has been working out with San Francisco 49ers RB Frank Gore during the offseason. Gore, a fellow University of Miami alum, counseled Miller on lessons learned in the NFL. Miller said Tuesday, May 14, he is staying at 215 pounds, but adding more muscle mass.

Fantasy Tip: Miller is viewed by some as having a leg up in the competition for the starting tailback job in Miami, although Daniel Thomas is not ready to go quietly. Whoever emerges as the top dog will be a low-end RB2 or flex fantasy option in most formats.

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Gore Hits Age 30, the 'Invisible Barrier' for NFL Running Backs

Now that 49ers running back Frank Gore has reached his 30th birthday, the question looms:

Will Gore be like Emmitt Smith and Curtis Martin, who continued to be among the NFL’s best backs after age 30? Or will Gore be like so many others – including Edgerrin James and Jamal Lewis – who quickly limped away?

Gore has been an exceptional back for the 49ers since being taken in the third round of the 2005 draft out of the University of Miami. Though he suffered two serious knee injuries with the Hurricanes, he’s been a durable, productive player in San Francisco.

He’s had six 1,000-yard rushing seasons, has a career average of 4.6 yards per carry and has played 14 or more games in seven of his eight pro seasons.
Over the past two seasons, at ages 29 and 28, he’s had two of his most productive years. Last season, he rushed for 1,214 yards and eight TDs; in 2011, he rushed for 1,211 yards and eight TDs.

Gore isn’t big at 5-foot-9 and 217 pounds, but he’s a darting, low-center-of-gravity back who usually slips away from big hits and makes much of his yardage after contact, squeezing through piles of defenders.

But now that Gore on Tuesday turned 30, the 49ers have to be wondering how many more seasons of productivity they can expect from their workhorse. San Francisco has a good group of running backs behind him in 2012 draft choice LaMichael James and 2011 pick Kendall Hunter, and drafted former South Carolina standout Marcus Lattimore in the fourth round this season with intentions of putting him into the mix in 2014 when he’s had a chance to heal and rehab completely from knee injuries suffered in college.

As Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News once wrote: “There is an invisible barrier for NFL running backs that few manage to cross: 30 years old. Until a running back is 29, the yards flow; when he steps into his third decade, he steps into a football abyss.”

Former 49ers standout running back Roger Craig is one example. Craig rushed for 1,054 yards in 1989 when he was 29 years old. In his next four seasons his yardage totals were: 439, 590, 416 and 119.

According to a study by the website, among those who tailed off considerably once they reached age 30 were:

LaDainian Tomlinson: He went from 1,474 yards and 1,110 yards rushing at ages 28 and 29 to 730, 914 and 280 from ages 30-32;
Brian Westbrook: 1,333 and 936 yards at ages 28 and 29 to 274 and 340 at 30 and 31;
Jamal Lewis: 1,304 and 1,002 yards at ages 28 and 29 to 500 at 30 – his final season.

On the other hand, Smith -- the former Cowboys back and league’s all-time rushing leader (18,355 yards) – continued to be one of the league’s best at age 30 when he rushed for 1,397 yards. At 31 he rushed for 1,203 yards, then rushed for 1,021 at age 32 and 975 at 33.

At ages 30 and 31, Martin had rushing seasons of 1,308 and 1,697 yards.

So, the jury is out. Gore, energized by the 49ers’ resurgence the past two seasons under head coach Jim Harbaugh and perhaps the best-blocking offensive line in the NFL, could still have another couple of great years ahead. Certainly, the 49ers’ diversified offense has many other weapons, and the team doesn’t have to run Gore 30 times a game to be effective.

Harbaugh, who in his two seasons as the team’s coach has gained a great appreciation for No. 21, is likely betting that Gore still has something left.

“Every day my admiration for Frank Gore as a football player, every time you think it’s as high as it can be, he finds another rung on the ladder to go in my esteem,” Harbaugh said last season, when Gore rushed for 119, 90 and 110 yards in three postseason games. “And then even more so as a person. He’s just one of the finest guys you’d ever want to be around.”

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Frank Gore led NFL running backs in facing eight in the box

The folks at Pro Football Focus asked which running back faced the highest percentage of eight defenders in the box. The 49ers very own Frank Gore took home top honors:

We have a winner. 42.3% of plays w/ at least 8 men in box. League average is 23.3% @MarkusEricsson: @PFF Gore?

There were various follow-up tweets with various details that provide a little more context. For example, Gore faced eight men in the box 37.8% of the time when Alex Smith was starting, and 46.6% of the time when Kaepernick was starting.

Here was another interesting stat:

Big reason Gore faced so many 8 in the boxes? 53.5% of rushing snaps with 1 or fewer receiver split out wide. Most in league

And Joe Staley had his own retort on all this:

@PFF good thing we got away from the running game with all those 8 man fronts ha! We laugh at 8 man fronts

It will be interesting to see how defenses handle the 49ers multi-faceted offensive attack in 2013. Defenses can load up in the box, but if it opens up the edges for the read option, they will continue to struggle against the 49ers. I imagine Greg Roman is keeping plenty busy preparing for how the 49ers will counter defensive adjustments.

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Marcus Lattimore received inspiration from Frank Gore

The 49ers nabbed South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore with their second pick of the fourth round. The beastly running back sustained a horrific torn ACL, LCL and the PCL while blocking downfield against Tennessee and missed the rest of the season. The injury resulted in a knee dislocation. He also tore an ACL a year earlier against Mississippi State.
He shares similarities with Frank Gore, who also dropped in the draft because of repeated knee-ligament tears. Lattitmore also has the same determination, both in his running style and attitude for the game. He even wears Gore’s number (21) and as you will see in the clip has the same jump cut ability. He could be the heir apparent.

Lattimore is likely to open the season on the non-football injury list and may need a year to completely rehabilitate the injury. The non-football list is for players coming to teams with preexisting injuries. He said he is already sprinting and jumping on boxes. Part of his inspiration for his extensive rehabilitation came from Gore, who called him a few days after the injury.

“He told me to keep my positive attitude,” Lattimore said. “I doubted myself, I did do that and I lost hope. But now it’s just a great, great situation to be in.”

At 5-11, 221 pounds, Lattimore was highly productive in college, scoring 41 touchdowns in 29 games. Like Gore, he’s considered a complete back with receiving (74 catches at South Carolina) and pass protections abilities. Considered quick, but not fast, the issue will be overcoming his significant injury history.

Lattimore’s injury was seen often on television and around the internet. We have a clip of it here, not to be sensational but to show what Lattimore is now up against in his rehabilitation. Lattimore spent some time Pensacola, Florida rehabbing the injury at a clinic and is now back in Columbia, South Carolina to continue that work.

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Frank Gore reached out to South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore to offer encouragement

INDIANAPOLIS – The 2013 NFL Scouting Combine is just about to begin. We’re all set in the media work room inside of Lucas Oil Stadium to cover the top college prospects for the next three days. First, 49ers General Manager Trent Baalke will speak with reporters as several GMs and head coaches will take turns talking to reporters this week. Jim Harbaugh will talk to the press on Friday.

As for players, it’ll be offensive linemen, tight ends and kickers talking with the press on Thursday. We’ll share some of their comments throughout the day, but first, let’s take a look at some of the top 49ers related headlines before the start of the NFL Scouting Combine.

Robert Klemko of USA TODAY Sports shared an interesting anecdote in a pre-combine story on South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore. The injured star running back was given a lot of advice after suffering a second major injury to his knee, most notably from 49ers rushing king Frank Gore.

“By his count, about 15 NFL players who have suffered similar injuries have contacted him to offer encouragement and advice,” Klemko wrote. “San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver, a former Gamecock, asked running back Frank Gore to call Lattimore.”

Gore dealt with knee injuries in college and was drafted in the third round back in 2005. Lattimore has been pegged as a third-rounder by many draft experts before the combine. Although Lattimore won’t be able to participate in drills, getting the opportunity to meet with coaches and NFL doctors this week will be crucial for him.

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Frank Gore Of The 49ers Trains With Pro Fighter Marty Monroe

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Frank Gore Says Ravens ‘Got Away With One,’ Insists 49ers ‘Were the Better Team’

With the lights (mostly) back on and the 49ers ripping off a 17-0 run in the second half, the Ravens looked like they were about to collapse and lose the Super Bowl matchup they had all but won Sunday night. San Francisco couldn’t finish the job, though, and after Baltimore’s defense held firm one more time, the Ravens were the victors. Some people thought the 49ers were lucky to make the 34-31 loss as close as it was — but not 49ers star running back, Frank Gore.

He was more in the mood to be the ungracious loser after the game. “They got away with one,” he said, according to The Associated Press. “We showed we were the better team. It was just a couple plays here, a couple plays there.”

The 49ers certainly looked like the better team in the second half, when they finally started clicking on both sides of the ball and staged their comeback. But when it mattered most, the 49ers again failed to shut down the Ravens’ Joe Flacco-powered offense, and Colin Kaepernick couldn’t take advantage of defensive holes with his arm or legs.

Even with a controversial non-call on a possible hold near the end of the game, San Francisco still botched several chances to take the lead and put the game away. That didn’t seem to faze Gore, though. In what was San Francisco’s first loss ever in a Super Bowl, he seemed less worried about the outcome and more concerned about who was winning that “better team” gold medal.

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Frank Gore takes San Francisco 49ers' loss hard

NEW ORLEANS -- Less than an hour after the 49ers' last gasp of Super Bowl XLVII, Frank Gore sat back quietly behind a podium, eyes glistening. He shook his head and looked down at bright yellow shoes that stood out amid a fitting all-black wardrobe.

"We were the better team," Gore said quietly.

The scoreboard said otherwise, but Gore, like the 49ers in the second half, didn't back down. He was proud of his teammates and of his contribution: 19 rushes for 110 yards and a touchdown in a 34-31 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

"I just feel like we were the better team," Gore repeated. "They got away with one today. It's tough. This is tough."

Gore's tough second-half running helped the 49ers get back in the game and nearly sparked a historic comeback. He rushed for 81 yards on eight second-half carries, including an untouched sprint to the right corner of the end zone that cut the deficit to eight late in the third quarter. Gore's biggest run came with 2:47 remaining and the Ravens desperately holding a 34-29 lead as Colin Kaepernick marched the 49ers down the field.

Gore, who adjusted his game after Kaepernick took over for Alex Smith, took a handoff out of the pistol formation and juked a Ravens defender before bursting through a hole along the left side of the line. Two more cuts took Gore toward the sideline, and after outrunning Ed Reed he bowled his way down to the 7-yard line, a 33-yard gain.

What was Gore, the eight-year veteran who has overcome so much adversity, thinking as the 49ers looked at a first-and-goal situation?

"Game over," Gore said later. "The Niners are going to win."

After a short run by LaMichael James, the 49ers came up short on three pass attempts for the game-winner.

James, a rookie, sat two lockers away from Gore in the losing locker room. Sounds from the on-field Ravens celebration echoed toward the locker room, and the 49ers sat under banners that read: "NFC Champions."

That's as far as the 49ers would get.

"I have no doubt in my mind," James said when asked if the 49ers would be back in the Super Bowl. "I have no doubt."

Gore knows it's not that easy. He was the last 49ers player to begin dressing after the loss and stood at the corner of the locker room for several minutes, eyes scanning the ceiling and hands clasped behind his head. Coach Jim Harbaugh eventually wandered over, twice patting Gore affectionately on the back.

"He told me he's proud of me," Gore said. "He loved the way I fought. I had a great game, but we just didn't get it done."

Gore said he wasn't upset that the ball didn't come his way after his 33-yard run that nearly clinched a Super Bowl. His face told a different story.

"Every player wants the ball at that big time," Gore finally admitted. "But our coaches make the decision, and we tried our best to make it happen."

He said the next step is to keep fighting, to keep pushing to get over the hump. But he knows these chances don't come often, and the scene on the field served as a reminder. As Gore was whisked along back hallways of the Superdome on a golf cart, two other former University of Miami stars -- Ray Lewis and Reed -- celebrated a title that adds yet another highlight to their illustrious careers.

Gore knows it could have been him under the confetti. He believes it should have been him.

"It's tough," he said again. "When you're in the dance, you want to get it."

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Frank Gore has had staying power for 49ers

NEW ORLEANS — The Miami neighborhood where Frank Gore grew up, in his words, is “small, rough.” He saw athletes he thought could truly excel, maybe play in the NFL, but opted for a different life, a more dangerous life.

So Gore decided he would do the opposite of what those guys had done, the guys who confronted him and thought they were better than him.

Despite academic difficulties, despite growing up poor — his single mother raised him, his two siblings, and her sister’s children in a tiny two-bedroom house — Gore used his football talent to get into the University of Miami.

With the Hurricanes, Gore tore his left anterior cruciate ligament in the spring of 2002, and then his right ACL in 2003.

He persevered, but the injuries, which meant he only played 28 games with the Hurricanes, made him a risky pick in the higher rounds of the 2005 NFL draft. The 49ers chose Gore in the third round, with the 65th overall pick.

Gore’s arrival in San Francisco came in the midst of the franchise’s first string of losing seasons in 25 years; over his first six seasons, not only did the 49ers not reach the playoffs, they didn’t get over .500.

But he quickly became the bright spot on what were some dismal offenses. In his second season, Gore had a franchise-record 1,695 yards.

He added 1,000-yard seasons in 2007, ’08, and ’09, the streak broken in 2010 when he fractured a hip in Week 12. But with 853 yards to that point, he was well on his way to another big season.

The statistics didn’t matter to Gore when San Francisco kept losing.

“It was real tough,” Gore said of his early seasons. “It was tough coming to work, especially for me, coming from a winning program in college. I wasn’t ever used to losing. I used to take it hard.”

It was even more frustrating when then-teammates weren’t as bothered when the losses were piling up.

“Some guys, who are not here anymore, were like ‘whatever.’ I wasn’t used to that. If we lost a game at Miami, it was like our season was over,” Gore said.
In the midst of the football losses came personal loss: Gore’s mother, Liz, died early in the 2007 season of kidney failure. A couple of months later, his close friend, Redskins safety Sean Taylor, was killed in his home.

Every time Gore scores a touchdown he points to the sky, a tribute to his mother.

“I love her,” he said this week. “She was a hard worker, and she did everything to make sure her kids [were] satisfied, and she was a smart woman.”

Finding out she had died was “like a dream, like a bad dream. It was tough.”

Gore never asked out of San Francisco, believing there were good pieces in place: himself, linebacker Patrick Willis, tight end Vernon Davis, defensive lineman Justin Smith.

All they needed was the right man to lead them.

When Gore came back from his hip injury in 2011, there was a new head coach: Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh was able to do for the 49ers what the four head coaches who preceded him were not, lead them to a winning season and the playoffs in his first year. And now he has them in the Super Bowl, Sunday against the Ravens.

“I love it. You can get up and walk around with your head up,” Gore said of being part of a winning program again. “Everybody loves you in the city. You want to practice.”

Gore has topped 1,200 rushing yards in each of the last two seasons, with eight touchdowns each year.

When he was drafted, Gore knew he was better than the five running backs taken before him, and history has shown him to be right. Of the five — Ronnie Brown, Cedric Benson, Cadillac Williams, J.J. Arrington, and Eric Shelton — only Benson has come close to replicating Gore’s success.

Benson had three straight 1,000-yard seasons in Cincinnati; Brown and Williams only got to that benchmark once, and Arrington and Shelton were busts.
Gore is 29, nearing the time when running backs traditionally start to slow down considerably. But Gore is still the player defenses have to be ready for.

“Frank Gore runs that offense,” Baltimore defensive tackle Arthur Jones said. “He’s a hard runner, and then they change it up a little with LaMichael James. It’s up to us as a front to dominate the line of scrimmage up front and stop the run.”

After quarterback Alex Smith suffered a concussion in the ninth game of the season and Harbaugh made the decision to stick with Colin Kaepernick even after Smith was cleared to return, Gore was one of the players who spoke out in favor of Smith getting his job back.

But Gore has adjusted to the “pistol” offense the 49ers run with Kaepernick, after spending his college and NFL career up to that point in a pro-style attack. He’s enjoying it now, in part because Kaepernick’s ability to run lessens his workload.

Harbaugh counts himself among Gore’s biggest fans.

“Nobody does it better than Frank Gore, nobody,” Harbaugh said. “I have the greatest respect for Frank because he has the greatest respect for the game. It’s evidenced by how he plays, every single game, every single day. Nobody does it better than Frank Gore.”

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Frank Gore the ‘main focus’ for Ravens defense

NEW ORLEANS — Colin Kaepernick is the exciting young quarterback. He’s the one with the multi-dimensional skill set that has helped transform the San Francisco 49ers from a team primarily known for its defense into a team for its explosive offense as well. And he’s the one featured in the giant picture that hangs across the wall of the lobby inside the 49ers’ team hotel.

But it’s actually running back Frank Gore that Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees described as the “main focus” for Baltimore’s defense heading into Sunday’s Super Bowl matchup with San Francisco.

Said Pees: “Everyone talks about No. 7 (Kaepernick), but 21 (Gore) can beat you just as easy as (Kaepernick) can and he’s still, to me, the main focus.”

Added Ravens defensive end Arthur Jones: “That’s what it all comes down to — stopping that run. Frank Gore runs that offense. … It’s up to us up front to dominate the line of scrimmage up front and stop the run.”

Gore’s a four-time Pro Bowler. He has rushed for 1,036 yards or more during each of the last six seasons that he’s played in at least 14 games. He finished this year’s regular season with 1,214 yards and eight touchdowns.

He has added 209 yards and three scores in San Francisco’s two playoff victories.

“Frank Gore, to me, is the most important part of the 49ers’ offense,” said former Pro Bowl running back and current NFL Network analyst LaDainian Tomlinson. “He allows them, for one, to wear down the defense with that dive (play). He’s the physical guy that can wear down the defense, but he can also still take it to the house and catch the ball out of the backfield.”

For the year — including the playoffs — the 5-foot-9, 217-pound Gore is averaging nearly five yards per carry.

He rushed for 90 yards and two touchdowns in the 49ers’ NFL championship win over the Atlanta Falcons, one of nine times this year Gore has totaled 83 yards or more on the ground.

He had 119 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries — as well as 48 yards on two catches — during San Francisco’s 45-31 divisional round playoff win over the Green Bay Packers.

Gore had a season-high 131 yards on just 16 carries against the Seattle Seahawks in mid-October.

“He’s just like a bull,” Ravens running back Ray Rice said of Gore. “He goes downhill on you really fast and I think he’s more (agile) than people think he is. I have respect for his game because if you watch Frank Gore, he doesn’t take the hits. He actually delivers them because of his low center of gravity. You go ask Ray Lewis who he has respect for in that offense, and obviously he has respect for everybody, but the main person he’ll tell you right now is Frank Gore.”

Gore has been selected to the Pro Bowl each of the last two years, rushing for a combined 2,426 yards and 16 touchdowns during the last two regular seasons.

“Nobody does it better than Frank Gore,” 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. “Nobody. I have the greatest respect for Frank because he has the greatest respect for the game. It’s evidenced by how he plays, every single game, every single day. Nobody does it better than Frank Gore. I really believe in his talent, but the greatest share is his love for the game; his love and respect for the game of football.”

On Sunday, Gore will be matched up against a Ravens defense — led by Lewis — that has limited opposing running backs to an average of just 3.6 yards per carry in the playoffs.

“They play well together,” Gore said. “The (defensive line) is very big, fast and strong. Their linebacker, (Lewis is) one of the best linebackers to ever play the game. … We are just going to have to keep chipping away and keep getting the ball to the offense. And whenever we get an opportunity to make a big play we need to capitalize and get it.”

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Football factory: The U's astounding presence in Super Bowl XLVII

NEW ORLEANS – Six-foot-eight-inch Bryant McKinnie, towering above everyone else in the Superdome, smiled and shared a joke about his old college team.

"We used to say if one of us didn't get to the Super Bowl," the former Miami Hurricane and current Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman said Tuesday, "we'd all take a pay cut and play for the Dolphins."

No need for that plan now. McKinnie and his Ravens teammate Ed Reed, another former 'Cane, will both play in Super Bowl XLVII on Sunday. So will Frank Gore, for the San Francisco 49ers. They were all on the same 2001 Miami Hurricanes roster that many consider the best collection of college talent of all time. And they are all stars.

In a league where the average career lasts four years, these three former college teammates continue to dominate more than a decade later.

And they're hardly alone.

That '01 Hurricanes team, which went undefeated and routed Nebraska in the BCS Championship Game, produced NFL players at just about every position. That Miami roster produced 17 first-round draft picks and 38 players were drafted into the NFL. Andre Johnson was on that roster. So was Vince Wilfork. So was D.J. Williams. So was Jonathan Vilma. So was Antrelle Rolle. So were Willis McGahee and Clinton Portis, who were both ahead of Gore on the depth chart. So was Sean Taylor, who was Reed's backup and made the Pro Bowl twice before being tragically killed in a home invasion. And so was 2012 Pro Bowler Chris Myers, who didn't start at Miami but logged significant playing time as a backup because, in his matter-of-fact words, "We were blowing teams out by 40 points." (That team's average margin of victory was actually 32.9 points.)

"Every now and then you get to coach a great one," says Tampa Bay Bucs head coach Greg Schiano, who helped recruit that Miami team and coached Reed before leaving for Rutgers in 2000. "That team was littered with great ones. I don't know that there will ever be a team assembled with all that talent again."

The heft of the credit for the millennium Hurricanes' success goes to Butch Davis, the head coach who assembled all that talent in one place before bolting to the NFL. "Butch Davis was an incredible, incredible evaluator of talent," says then-assistant Curtis Johnson, who is now at Tulane. Davis' legacy is mixed because of a two-pronged NCAA investigation at North Carolina that resulted in his firing, but in 10 years as a college head coach, he recruited dozens of future NFL players and more than 30 first-round draft picks. Most came at Miami.

"We were looking for athletic, speed guys who loved football," explains Schiano. That was a directive from Davis, who got his start coaching multiple sports and always looked for players who could excel at basketball, track, wrestling, whatever. "When you coach a lot of different sports," Davis says, "you start to appreciate a lot of skills and how they work together." He would assemble his staff in a film room, look at high school games, and wait for preps to "jump off the screen."

The recruiting ground in South Florida was fertile, but a lot of the stars on that 2001 roster came from elsewhere. Reed arrived from Louisiana. McKinnie came from New Jersey. Jeremy Shockey grew up in Oklahoma. Davis didn't much care for five-star guys as much as he wanted those three ingredients: athleticism, speed and love of football. For every Andre Johnson, who probably could have played in the NFL as a college freshman, there was an undersized talent nobody else saw. "Roscoe Parrish was a midget," says Curtis Johnson. (For the record, Parrish is 5-9.)

The "loved football" part was perhaps most important. Gore was a great example, as he came to Miami despite having to wait behind Portis and McGahee. Asked at Super Bowl media day Tuesday why he didn't shy away from that, Gore said, "Competition. If you want to be the best, you have to play with the best. I wasn't scared of competition."

Gore carried a football around campus in those days, held high and tight, because he knew his day would come. "He could care less about anything but school and football," says Mike Rumph, one of those 17 first-round picks. "Most guys are chasing girls, thinking about stuff at home. Not him. First day out to practice, most guys have special sleeves or new shoes. He's out there with no gloves. Just a jersey, shorts, and helmet. He was like Mike Tyson."

There were several players on the team with that mentality. "We had tackling going on in walk-throughs," says Curtis Johnson, and that was on purpose. Davis wanted practices to be more difficult than games, even if it meant grueling workouts and ferocious drills.

"The toughest battle was Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday," says Schiano. "That's the thing I remember – the competition." Asked if it was as intense as the NFL, Schiano said: "In some ways even more so. At the U of Miami, we were trying to bring the program back. There was such a hunger there. That's one of the reasons they practiced so hard against each other."

Schiano remembers being disturbed in his office one spring by "a loud noise" and looking out the window to see a rowdy 7-on-7 game that included Michael Irvin, who had retired from football, and Sinorice Moss (Santana's younger brother), who was 15 at the time. Irvin, Ray Lewis and Warren Sapp had long since left campus, yet there was an unspoken expectation that the bar needed to be raised every single year. There's even a book written about the building and sustaining of the Miami program: Cane Mutiny.

"The level of work ethic was established," says Myers. "We wanted to keep that going. You wanted to prove to yourself you could keep doing what was done before."

Former players credit not only the strength coaches, but also the fact that the facilities weren't all that great. Today, major schools have professional-grade equipment. At that time, Miami had something resembling a boxing gym. That only seemed to motivate players more.

"It was the work ethic," Reed said Tuesday. "With the people we had, we tended to get the best guys."

It all culminated with a one-loss season in 2000, an undefeated season in 2001 and another one-loss season in 2002. But the 2001 team was especially dominant. The final score for that entire year, with point totals from all games added up, was Miami 512, Opponents 117.

"I really felt like we could have beaten the Cincinnati Bengals that year," says Rumph, who played five seasons in the NFL and now coaches at American Heritage High in Boca Raton. "It wouldn't be a blowout game!"

The most remarkable aspect of that team is only now coming into view. Nearly 12 years later, Gore is maybe the most dangerous player on the 49ers roster. The same could be said about Johnson in Houston, and Wilfork is a rare stalwart on a constantly rotating Patriots defense.

Yet when forced to pick a player or two from that '01 squad, two names come up: McKinnie and Reed.

Former 'Canes love to talk about the much-hyped matchup that season between "Mt. McKinnie" and defensive end Dwight Freeney, who starred at Syracuse and is building himself a Hall of Fame career with Indianapolis.

"Bryant is the best lazy player I've ever seen in my life," Rumph says. "He don't like to work out, his back is bothering him, that kind of thing. But even on his laziest day, he would not give up a sack. Dwight Freeney came to town, and Bryant literally rolled him down the field."

Miami beat No. 14 Syracuse that November day, 59-0.

While McKinnie is revered for his strength, Reed is awed for his smarts. The signature play from that championship season came when Miami struggled with Boston College into the fourth quarter and defensive lineman Matt Walters intercepted a pass deep in Miami territory. Reed raced up on his 270-pound teammate, ripped the ball out of his hands and ran 80 yards to the end zone. He was such a ball hawk that he forced his own teammate to fumble. "He had ball skills like an elite receiver and footwork like a top DB," Rumph says. "He was a coach on the field."

Davis, the architect of all this, admits he looks back at his Miami days wistfully. "In retrospect, obviously I would have loved to stay for eight, 10, 12, 15 years and maybe still be there," Davis says. "It was ridiculous how much success we had."

And it wasn't just on the field. Chuck Pagano was a secondary coach who left in 2000. Rob Chudzinski was an offensive coordinator. Schiano was defensive coordinator until the 2000 season. All three are now NFL head coaches.

In the college ranks, head coach Larry Coker is now the top guy at Texas San-Antonio. Mario Cristobal became a head coach at Florida International. Randy Shannon was in charge at Miami for a time. Curtis Johnson is now head coach at Tulane. Mark Stoops is head coach at Kentucky.

And Ken Dorsey, the quarterback on that unbeaten team, is now the quarterbacks coach for the Carolina Panthers.

Ironically, Davis has never reached that level of success again as a head coach. He struggled with the Cleveland Browns before leaving for North Carolina, which is now mired in scandal. Davis never won a national title as a head coach, but hopes to get one more shot. He's now an assistant with Schiano's Bucs.

Other lingering aspects of the Miami juggernaut are more subtle. Every time Myers gets ready to take the field for the Texans, he listens to the same song before he runs out into the din of the stadium: "In The Air Tonight," by Phil Collins. That was the song hand-picked by Davis to signal the entrance of the Hurricanes onto the field at the old Orange Bowl. He picked it to set a tempo and tone, but also to time a pregame stretch.

"The drum roll signified time to break down and go to the next phase of pregame," Davis says. "The tempo and mindset was now in place." Myers is not alone in his ritual. "Everybody still listens to that song before games," Myers says. "It brings me back to a little bit of Miami."

There is a little bit of Miami all over the NFL. In fact, there is a lot. And some of it will be on display in New Orleans on Sunday.

In fact, it's hard not to wonder how good those Hurricanes would have been if they could have experienced McKinnie's joke about playing together in the NFL: Gore, Portis and McGahee in the backfield, Johnson at wideout, Shockey at tight end, McKinnie blocking, Wilfork rushing, Williams at linebacker, Reed, Rolle and the late Taylor in the defensive backfield. And all those coaches.

Asked how good that team would have been in the NFL, Tulane's Johnson lets out a howling laugh before giving a one-word answer:


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Frank Gore has warmed to the Pistol offense in time for Super Bowl 2013

When the San Francisco 49ers coaches approached veteran running back Frank Gore midway through the season and told him they'd be making some changes to the offense, Gore didn't take the news all too well.

For a player who had made his living and established himself among the league's top backs by lining up in a pro-style offense and running the football behind a fullback, Gore didn't initially welcome the idea of switching to the Pistol formation.

In fact, he downright hated it, saying at least once that the offensive formation -- which called for the quarterback to line up four yards behind the center and the running back another few yards behind the quarterback -- was not real football.

But after helping the 49ers rank fourth in the NFL in rushing offense and leading them to Sunday's Super Bowl 2013 against the Baltimore Ravens at the Mercedes-Benz Super Bowl, Gore appears to be warming to the offensive system.

"I didn't like the Pistol at first, but I am a team guy and it helped us get here," Gore said. "We are doing great things with it so I am with it now."

San Francisco Coach Jim Harbaugh said he knew it wouldn't take long for Gore to get over his apprehensions. Gore, whose time in a pro-style offense dates back to his college days at Miami, studied the philosophies of nuance in the Pistol and read-option offense.

And while he went the final nine regular season games of the regular season without a 100-yard rushing game, Gore has proven in the playoff that he still is a major factor in the offense.

After rushing for 119 yards a touchdown on 23 carries in the 49ers' 45-31 divisional playoff win against the Green Bay Packers, Gore followed up the performance with a 20-carry, 90-yard, two-touchdown performance in the NFC Championship game win against the Atlanta Falcons. Gore scored both touchdowns in the second half as the 49ers overcame a 17-point deficit on the way to a 28-24 victory.

"Nobody does it better than Frank Gore, nobody," Harbaugh said. "I have the greatest respect for Frank because he has the greatest respect for the game. It's evidenced by how he plays, every single game, every single day. Nobody does it better than Frank Gore. I really believe in his talent, but the greatest share is his love for the game; his love and respect for the game of football."

Gore, who has rushed for at least 1,000 yards in six of his eight seasons on his way to becoming the 49ers' all-time leading rusher, is finally seeing the fruits of his hard work.

Despite individual success in his first six seasons, Gore experienced few team triumphs before Harbaugh arrived before the 2011 season.

In his first six seasons, the 49ers failed to make the playoffs. And Gore was repeatedly dogged by an assortment of injuries.

But now his team's fortunes have changed, even if the offense had to change with it.

"It's big," Gore said of finally advancing to the Super Bowl. "It's big, especially going through so much with this organization. I was drafted in '05 and I had a lot of struggles. We had some players in the locker room, but now we have a chance to play in the big game, so it's big.

"I've dreamed about playing in this game a long time. I'm excited and ready."

While 49ers' upstart quarterback Colin Kaepernick is clearly San Francisco's most talked-about player here at the Super Bowl, Gore is their rock.

"He's a great player," Kaepernick said. "He's a great leader. He's a workhorse. He's going to do whatever it takes to win and we need Frank Gore to be Frank. That will be good enough on Sunday. I think you can put Frank in any offense and he will be successful. He's the type of running back that can adapt. He can do anything we need him to do. I think that's why he has been doing so well."

Gore, who has made the Pro Bowl four times, has done his job quietly, too. The unassuming running back who has rushed for a franchise-record 8,839 yards in the regular season during his career, said he'll continue to do his job and handle his business just as he did the change in offensive strategy.

"I've always been quiet," he said. "I like to just chill and watch and let everybody else do the talking and not waste time.

"I'm going to do whatever it takes to win, blocking, running, catching."

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Frank Gore flattered by Gregg Williams' bounty mandate

NEW ORLEANS: Frank Gore unwittingly played a role in the Super Bowl host city's most recent football scandal.

It was Gore's head that former New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams called for in a pregame speech before a 2011 playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers. Audio of that locker room speech contributed to the league's decision to indefinitely suspend Williams from coaching and ban head coach Sean Payton for a year as punishment for a bounty program.

"Yeah, I heard it," Gore said Wednesday. "Kill the head, the body will die."

The comments didn't particularly bother Gore. If anything, he found Williams' intent flattering.

"He was probably just trying to pump his guys up. That's football," Gore said. "That's respect. He respected me."

Gore's 49ers beat the Saints in that divisional round playoff game but lost in the NFC title game the next week. A year later, Gore was a major reason the 49ers were able to win the conference title to advance here to the Super Bowl in New Orleans. He rushed for 209 yards and three touchdowns in San Francisco's two playoff wins.

Despite an eight-year NFL career, six 1,000-yard seasons and four Pro Bowls, Gore might be the most unassuming star of Super Bowl week.

Gore, 29, speaks so softly that one must lean in close to listen to him, a demeanor that belies his brash, physical running style. Gore prides himself nearly as much in his ability to block against linebackers and safeties as he does rushing for touchdowns.

"With me, I feel like a lot of guys don't like doing it. If you want to be a complete player, if you do that, you get recognized," Gore said.

Gore has a fan in Baltimore safety Bernard Pollard, who was on the receiving end of one of Gore's blocks when their teams played on Thanksgiving in 2011. Pollard laughed this week when reminded of Gore's punishing hit.

"I thought he was going to cut me, and he came and got me right under my chin. A lot of my family let me have it, they said he gave me the Sweet Chin Music," Pollard said, referencing the signature pro wrestling move of Shawn Michaels.

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Frank Gore Rewards Joe Staley With Rolex

It is clear by now, that San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh has transformed the 49ers culture into a team first mind-set. With nine Pro-Bowlers on the roster, it is easy for a team that talented to have egos, not this team. From the coaching staff to the players, everyone is on the same page, and all about the team.

Just ask supplanted 49ers quarterback Alex Smith, as he was interviewed by NFL Network Analyst Deion Sanders, saying:

This is a team game, I wasn’t going to sit and pout and mope around…I love the locker room we have, I love the group of guys we have, and that’s bigger than me, I feel like. I certainly wasn’t going to put myself before any of that, that’s just how I feel.

The team first mind-set has been instilled in the players, and running back Frank Gore is no exception. Gore enjoyed one of the best seasons of his career as he rushed for 1,214 yards and 8 touchdowns. A testament to his offensive line, the man known as “Frankie G” rewarded teammate offensive tackle Joe Staley with a rolex. Talk about ballin.’ The news was first reported when NFL Network Anchor Amber Theoharis made a joke to Gore, saying “I hope you that you bought them some very nice dinners over the years.” Gore responded:

I bought them a nice gift this year. Joe got a ro! Joe got a ro! (referring to Staley’s rolex)

Staley was then obligated to flash the bling in front of the cameras, showing off his nice piece, as Theoharis said:

See, that’s how you take care of your lineman right there. They’re going to block just a little bit harder with that on their wrist.

With the Super Bowl just four days away, it will be interesting to see how “Frankie G” will reward his lineman, considering they win Super Bowl XLVII. And if I had to take a guess, I would bet on “Frankie G” buying them more than just rolex watches after Sunday’s game.

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Frank Gore perseveres with inspiration from his late mom

SANTA CLARA – In one of his first years coaching varsity football at Coral Gables High School in Miami, Joe Montoya recalls, the team made T-shirts for parents bearing the jersey numbers of their sons.

He saw a lot of the shirt given to Liz Gore, mother of the team's standout running back, Frank Gore.

"Every game she would be out there," Montoya recalled. "She would be right behind us … and she would be wearing his number all the time."

Gore rushed for 2,953 yards his senior season at Coral Gables, a Dade County record. Twelve years later, Gore is the 49ers' all-time rushing leader, having helped lead the franchise to its first Super Bowl appearance since 1995.

The road between has hardly been smooth. There were the two major surgeries while playing at the University of Miami to repair ACL tears in both of Gore's knees. The two shoulder surgeries after his rookie season in 2005 with the 49ers. The fractured hip that ended his 2010 campaign after 11 games.

In Gore's first six seasons, the 49ers went 37-59 and did not make the playoffs. As a bright spot on those teams, the 49ers dialed Gore's number often, and he shouldered much of the offensive load. But amid the losing, he said last week, the lowest point was a call that never came.

Before the 49ers' second game in 2007, Gore's mother died at the age of 46 after a long battle with kidney disease. Liz Gore had raised Frank, his siblings and several cousins in a small apartment in Coconut Grove, Fla., under difficult circumstances. When he reached the NFL, Gore said, she made sure to call him before each game.

"That day, the time came when I didn't get the call, I just burst out," Gore said. "I just cried and cried. But I knew she would've wanted me to play, and I had a pretty good game that day. I think she came on the field, because I made a crazy run."

Gore, a soft-spoken 29-year-old, is a highly respected figure in the 49ers' locker room. It comes in part from his eight seasons in San Francisco and from a work ethic that seemingly has not subsided.

"Everyone knows he's a good football player on Sunday, but his work ethic the other times is what we see," fullback Bruce Miller said. "He pushes everyone to be a better football player."

The determination was evident in Gore's later high school years, said Roger Pollard, a former Coral Gables teammate who now coaches the program.

"He had a broken ankle his junior year going into spring," Pollard recalled by phone. "He kept running on it until later they found out it was broken."

The impetus, Gore said, could be found at home.

"Being with my mom since I was a kid, (her) doing whatever it takes to put food on the table, put clothes on our back, and it was hard," he said. "God blessed me with the talent, and that's why I try my best to do it hard every day."

It may not have always been so. When Montoya arrived at Coral Gables after Gore's sophomore season, he found "a kid that did not have an idea of how to prepare himself physically and mentally" for football. In a pointed sit-down, Gore was told his habits needed to change.

His junior year, Gore broke the school's rushing record. Next season, it was the county mark. In the classroom, having fallen behind while battling a learning disability, Gore scrambled to make up units he needed to qualify for college, Montoya said. Meanwhile, in Gore's junior year, his mother began undergoing dialysis for her ailing kidneys.

"It would be days he would come to the school and he would be in tears," Montoya said. "You could tell certain days at practice that his mind wasn't in it. I just told him, 'Frank, you've got to hang in there.' "

In 2001, Gore signed his letter of intent to attend Miami in Montoya's office, with Liz Gore in attendance.

Gore averaged 9.1 yards per carry as a freshman but redshirted the next year after his first ACL tear. Despite the surgeries, the 49ers made him a third-round pick in 2005. Gore has rewarded them by eclipsing 1,000 rushing yards in six seasons. He was named to his fourth Pro Bowl this season after rushing for 1,214 yards.

And now he is in the Super Bowl, a steadying force on a 49ers team that has gone 24-7-1 over the past two regular seasons. Last week, at his locker, where he represents a link to the darker times of the past decade, Gore was asked whether he will honor his mother during the game. He said he'll probably just do what he has since Week 2 of the 2007 season – if he scores a touchdown, he'll point skyward.

"Tell her it's for her," Gore said. "I miss her, I love her, and I know she's happy just like her son, who went through so much coming up … finally gets an opportunity to play in a big game."

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Frank Gore's hot hands lead calm, cool 49ers

NEW ORLEANS -- When the San Francisco 49ers fell behind Atlanta 17-0 early in the NFC Championship Game, they did the opposite of panic. They handed the ball to Frank Gore four times in a row.

Two first downs and 20 yards later, they had found their rhythm. Gore's kick-start spurred the 49ers to touchdowns on four of their next six full possessions, and a fifth ended with a fumble inside the Falcons' 1.

“Everyone said let's not panic," offensive guard Alex Boone said. “Let's not freak out and just be who we are and let's get back to football. That's the one thing about this team. We've grown to have a confidence about it. We can put points up. We just have to be calm. Things aren't going to always go our way, but the key is not worrying about it. Our team did a great job of that.”

By returning to the basics instead of bombing away, the 49ers showed impressive self-assurance. Look for another heavy dose of Gore against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday in Super Bowl XVLII because that's what San Francisco does.

Gore is tough. He's reliable. He gets the job done.

His stat line against Atlanta was typical -- 21 carries for 90 yards with a long run of 11. After starting the 49ers' first touchdown drive, he finished the last two, scoring as they cut their deficit to 24-21 at the start of the second half and providing the winning touchdown in the fourth quarter.

“We always credit Frank with the tough yards,” fullback Bruce Miller said. “He doesn't get the easy runs. He gets downhill, up the middle, 3, 4 yards a carry. That's what Frank does for us. He just continues to move the chains and keep the ball in our possession, which is why we're here.”

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick has dazzled with his feet (Green Bay) and his arm (Atlanta) in San Francisco's run to the Super Bowl, but at their core, the 49ers are about Gore. Before his effort at Atlanta, he rushed 23 times for 119 yards and a touchdown against Green Bay, adding a 45-yard reception.

He finished the regular season with 258 carries for 1,214 yards, the second-highest total of his eight-year career. His average per-carry (4.7) was his best since 2009, even though it was not padded by long runs. His biggest gain on the ground was 37 yards, his worst season-best.

“[We are] physical and tough,” Gore said. “It's hard to break us. We're going to fight to the end. We have a great team.”

When the 49ers keep pounding him, they almost always get good results.

Only three opponents held San Francisco to fewer than 100 rushing yards, and none of those efforts was Gore's fault. The 49ers abandoned the run in losses to Minnesota (Gore had 12 carries for 63 yards), the New York Giants (eight carries for 36 yards) and Seattle (six carries for 28 yards).

They did not make that mistake against Atlanta, improving to 12-1 when he runs 15 or more times.

“His work ethic is inspirational,” Miller said. “When you see him in the facility, the weight room and the practice field -- everyone knows he's a good football player on Sunday -- but his work ethic, the other times, is what we see. He pushes everyone to be a better football player.”

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Frank Gore finally gets a showcase

NEW ORLEANS - Seems like everybody asking questions of the 49ers at Super Bowl XLVII wants to focus on Colin Kaepernick and the read option, or maybe on coach Jim Harbaugh matching up against his brother.

But the story that maybe best embodies San Francisco's struggle to get back to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1995 is that of running back Frank Gore.
Gore arrived as a third-round pick from Miami in 2005 (the 49ers could have taken Ryan Moats, but unbelievably they left him for the Eagles to grab a dozen slots later). Gore's selection was derided at the time because he'd torn both ACLs playing for the Hurricanes. The 49ers went 4-12 his first season. He finally experienced a winning record and a playoff game in his seventh season.

En route to becoming San Francisco's all-time leading rusher (8,839 yards on 1,911 carries), Gore has endured serious injuries to both shoulders and one hip. Yet in 2012, Gore ran 258 times for 1,214 yards and eight touchdowns. He has started every game Harbaugh has coached for the 49ers.

Monday, someone asked Gore about the identity of his team.

"Physical and tough," he said. "It's hard to break us."

That's also pretty much the way his teammates describe Gore.

"We always credit Frank with the tough yards," fullback Bruce Miller said Monday. "He doesn't get the easy runs. He gets downhill, up the middle, 3, 4 yards a carry - that's what Frank does for us. He just continues to move the chains and keep the football in our possession, which is why we're here."

Miller said Gore's work ethic, which has allowed him to come back from so many setbacks, "is inspirational . . . He pushes everyone to be a better football player."

Miller knows what this opportunity means to Gore, who turns 30 in May.

"I'll tell you, it means a lot to him. You can see it on his face, when he's in meetings and when we practice . . . he's worked hard for it," Miller said.

Offensive tackle Alex Boone said Gore's appetite for contact endears the o-line to him.

"Have you ever seen Frank's pass protection?" Boone asked a reporter Monday. The reporter replied that he had, and that it was pretty good.

"Pretty good?" Boone scoffed. "I've see him knock how many guys out? Just unbelievable. And he does that because he's a selfless player. And that's what I love about him.

"He's like a fine wine. He gets better with age. It's crazy . . . I think Frank has the most passion I've ever seen anybody have in football. He's so intense."
Boone recalled accidentally getting in Gore's way on a run.

"It was not my fault - he cut into me - but he yelled at me so loud," Boone said. "You know Frank is always out there giving it 110 percent . . . I think Frank deserves this ring more than anybody."

Gore, like so many NFL players, grew up in poverty, raised by a single mother, Lizzie, in Coral Gables, Fla. A learning disability meant he had to take the SAT orally to pass it, the San Jose Mercury News reported in a recent profile.

The story recalled then-49ers general manager Scot McCloughan defending the draft pick by talking about how much Gore loved the game.

"If you take football away from him, you take his life away," McCloughan said. (Note to the Eagles: Those are the guys who make it big in the NFL, providing they have adequate talent. Not necessarily the smartest guys, not the ones who have the most well-rounded off-the-field lives, or the ones who are the most eloquent.)

Gore recalled Monday that when he suffered his second ACL tear at Miami, "I thought football wasn't for me," but a Miami coach encouraged him not to give up, told him he would play in the NFL.

Then, when Gore got to San Francisco, "it was tough coming to work . . . I used to take it hard.

"Some guys who aren't here anymore were just like, 'Whatever.' I wasn't used to that," he said. "If we lost a game at Miami, it was like our season was over. Our coaching style that we have now has changed everything . . . I knew we had players. We just didn't have the right people to lead us, and now we do."

This game is a showcase for Gore, who spent a lot of years watching other teams and other backs take the spotlight.

"I think I'm one of the top guys at my position," he said. "I think I play the game the way it's supposed to be played."

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Frank Gore Determined to Win

NEW ORLEANS – What does Bourbon Street look like during the week leading up to Super Bowl XLVII?

Don’t ask Frank Gore.

San Francisco’s all-time leader in carries, rushing yards and rushing touchdowns hasn’t left his room for sightseeing this week in New Orleans. Excuse Gore, he’s too busy focused on the biggest game of his eight-year career, Super Bowl XLVII this Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens.

Gore’s story is quite unique. To know San Francisco’s feared running back is to know how much the game of football means to him. Being in the Super Bowl isn’t good enough; it’s an opportunity to represent for his friends and family. Most importantly, it’s a chance for Gore to pay another tribute to his late mother, Liz.

“My mother means everything to me,” Gore explained on Monday at the 49ers second media obligation of Super Bowl week. “She was a tough woman. She raised me and my brother and my sister. That was a lot of weight. I love her. She means everything. (This game is) for her.”

Gore enters Super Bowl XLVII with plenty of hardships under his belt. Asked about the injuries he’s suffered in both college and professionally, Gore said he’s had surgeries on both knees, both shoulders and his hip.

Still, the 29-year-old runner shows no signs of slowing down.

In Gore’s mind, the toughness of the 49ers running attack bodes well for the franchise bringing home a sixth Super Bowl title. It’s hard to know if the 49ers would have advanced to the big game if not for Gore’s 91 yards and pair of touchdown runs in the NFC Championship.

“It’s hard to break us,” Gore said. “We’re going to fight to the end. We have a great team.”

The 17-point comeback win over the Atlanta Falcons was a strong indication of how the 49ers have bounced-back from adversity all season long. Gore’s been that way, a fighter, throughout his football career.

After a productive collegiate career at the University of Miami, Gore’s made the postseason only twice in eight NFL seasons. As a young runner selected in the third-round of the 2005 NFL Draft, Gore dealt with coaching turnover and losing seasons with the 49ers. Through it all, his passion for the game never wavered.

“It was real tough,” Gore explained. “It was tough coming to work, especially for me, coming from a winning program in college. I wasn’t ever used to losing. I used to take it hard. I’m glad that Coach Harbaugh and his coaching staff came at the right time and we’ve done good things.”

“I’m just happy with our coaching style and who we have now,” Gore added. “It’s changed everything.”

With Greg Roman’s never-ending playbook of running plays, Gore rushed for his team-record sixth, 1,000-yard season in 2012. The production carried into the postseason where Gore (209) and quarterback Colin Kaepernick (202) stand as the NFC’s top two postseason rushers.

Gore’s certainly enjoying the offensive production as the team heads into Sunday’s matchup against the Baltimore Ravens, a team that features well-known linebacker Ray Lewis, a Miami alum like Gore.

“Ray is a great player,” Gore said. “He’s been doing it for a long time. He’s the best at the business. I love him. He’s like a brother (to me). We come from the same school.”

Gore even noticed how Lewis’ first career sack being televised this week. It just so happened to be against Jim Harbaugh, the man responsible for reshaping San Francisco’s professional football team.

Meanwhile, Gore, the 49ers rushing king, who reached the NFC title game last year under Harbaugh, sees an even more determined team in 2012. Based on how last season ended for the 49ers, it was tough for Gore to bounce-back, but he did it.

Gore said he sat out of the 2012 Pro Bowl because he was so disappointed in not reaching the Super Bowl. Looking to come back with a vengeance, Gore and teammates set new goals, mainly repeat as NFC West division champs and reach the Super Bowl.

"Once we got in the Super Bowl it was different, real different,” Gore said. “Last year we were kind of happy about beating New Orleans. This year, we beat Green Bay, but we were like, ‘Cool, let’s go get the next one.’ It’s just different. Our mindset was totally different this year than last year.”

The 49ers, like Gore, want it that much more this time around.

That will-to-win is fresh on everyone’s minds as they meet the press this week in New Orleans.

“This year everyone knew that we had a good team,” Gore said. “So we knew it was going to be tough and it was tough. We knew, in the locker room, that we have to be ready every week.”

The 49ers will need to be at their best to bring home the franchise’s sixth Super Bowl. Gore doesn’t see any pressure in keeping San Francisco’s perfect Super Bowl record intact either.

In his mind, it’s all about playing the team’s hard-nosed brand of football.

“We’re going to do our best as a team to win,” Gore said. “We want to win. We just have to go out there and do what we did all year, being the 49ers.”

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Frank Gore’s work ethic impresses 49ers teammates

SAN FRANCISCO — Long before he burrowed his way into the Super Bowl, darting through small holes and dancing through slender creases, the San Francisco 49ers’ Frank Gore carved out his persona as a workingman’s running back.

Not even his mom could stop him.

She tried, in the final game of his career at Coral Gables High outside Miami. Gore rambled for nearly 300 yards, by his recollection, and played defensive back for much of his team’s playoff duel with Miami Southridge.

Finally, there went Lizzie Gore bounding out of the bleachers and onto the sideline.

“Get my baby out of there!” she shouted. “Y’all are going to kill him! He’s tired!”

Gore smiled as he told the story Friday in Santa Clara, outside the 49ers’ locker room.

So did she succeed in getting her baby some rest? Fat chance.

“Aw, I wanted to play,” Gore said.

This makes perfect sense, given his relentlessness and persistence in eight seasons with the 49ers. That’s how he became the franchise’s all-time leading rusher and how he wore down the Packers in the divisional round (23 carries, 119 yards, one touchdown) and the Falcons in the NFC Championship Game (21 carries, 90 yards, two TDs).

The roots of this relentlessness and persistence start with Lizzie Gore and the way she raised three kids with little money. As many as 12 people stayed in their one-bedroom apartment at times, including nieces and nephews.

Lizzie got sick during Frank’s junior year in high school, nearly dying then of what became a debilitating kidney ailment. She endured thrice-weekly dialysis for several years and died in 2007, at 46, early during Gore’s third NFL season.

“She did whatever it took to put food on the table and clothes on our back,” he said Friday, speaking to a group of reporters. “It was hard. All the hard work she did for us — that’s why God blessed me with a talent. That’s why I try my best to do it hard every day.”

Even in high school, in the image-conscious years of his youth, Gore had no use for flamboyance.

Humble origins
He wore no gloves, no wristbands, nothing at all on his arms while playing at Coral Gables. Gore had found his niche — training diligently, squeezing through any hole he could find, steadily chewing up chunks of yardage.

Gore set all sorts of Dade County records as a high school player, but one-time teammate Roger Pollard does not recall a back with striking speed or overwhelming power. More than 12 years later, ask Pollard about Gore’s running style back then, and he offers one word.

“He sees you even when he’s not looking at you,” Pollard said.

Gore traced his vision to haphazard pickup games in the rough Coconut Grove neighborhood where he grew up, playing tackle football in the park or two-hand touch games in the street. Either way, he learned — quickly — the value of spotting defenders coming at him from various angles.

“When you get the ball in those games, everybody tries to tackle you,” he said. “I think that kind of helped.”

Inspirational leader
Gore weathered one broken ankle in high school, two torn ACLs in college and six maddening, non-winning seasons with the 49ers before coach Jim Harbaugh arrived. And now Gore prepares to play in the Super Bowl, not ready to retire but San Francisco’s inspirational answer to Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis.

Much as Ravens players want to win for Lewis, so do 49ers players speak of their fervent desire to reward Gore, 29, with a Super Bowl ring. And their respect for him stretches deeper than his production.

Offensive tackle Joe Staley brought up a scene at practice last week.

“The offensive line was running gassers, and Frank just jumped in with us and ran gassers with us,” Staley said. “He’s always working. You go in the weight room, and he’s always busting his (butt) on the treadmill or the Stairmaster.”

Fullback Bruce Miller mentioned Gore’s blocks.

“He pass protects better than a lot of offensive linemen,” Miller said. “It’s unreal to watch. He’s not the biggest guy, but he plays with great leverage and explosion. His timing is second to none, the way he sizes up guys and just explodes through them.”

Running back Anthony Dixon talked about the time, in a previous season, when he returned to the practice facility for a late-night workout. Dixon figured he needed to put in extra work as a young running back fighting for his spot on the team — and then he came across the starter, now a four-time Pro Bowler.

Leads by example
“Frank was walking through the halls, sweating,” Dixon said. “I was like, ‘What are you doing here?’ I felt like I was going to get my edge — little did I know Frank was in here thinking the same thing.”

The work ethic and pass blocking say plenty about Gore, because they are not the glamorous aspects of playing running back in the NFL.

“My mom would love to be here right now,” he said. “She knows how much I love playing this sport and how hard I work at it.”

And Lizzie Gore really would savor this part: Her baby doesn’t need to play both ways anymore.

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Frank Gore is 49ers' spiritual center

The Baltimore Ravens are making noise about winning Super Bowl XLVII for retiring linebacker Ray Lewis. But the 49ers have their own favorite -- and spiritual center -- in veteran running back Frank Gore.

Ask any 49ers player, offense or defense, how they feel about him and it's like tapping into a wellspring of resolve for Gore as he approaches the most important football game of his life.

The 29-year-old has persevered through a life of pain and hardship, both on the football field and off. But at long last, he can finally see the mountaintop. Win the Super Bowl next Sunday and he can stand on it for a while. He can look up and tell his beloved mother, Lizzie, who died in 2007 of kidney disease, that he has something really special for her this time.

"Since she passed, every time I score a touchdown I always point up and tell her it's for her," Gore said this week. "I mention that I love her. I know she's happy. I'm her son. We went through so much in high school, college and the NFL. Finally, I'm getting the opportunity to play in the big game."
Few thought Gore ever would.

He was born and raised in a poor, drug-infested area of Coral Gables, Fla., where many of his own relatives abused drugs. Lizzie was a single mother of three who often took in nieces and nephews, and Gore noted there were often as many as 11 or 12 people living in a one-bedroom apartment.

"I didn't know if I was going to get a bed," he said. "I didn't know if the lights were going to be on. It was tough."

Gore's escape was athletics, particularly football, but despite a legendary career at Coral Gables High, he struggled academically because of a learning disability. He entered high school at a third-grade reading level, had to attend summer and night classes and undergo extensive tutoring just to qualify for college.

Even though he worked diligently to get to a 10th-grade reading level, he still had trouble with written material. He failed to achieve the NCAA's required minimum score on the SAT a few times. Finally, he was given the test orally and passed.

He got a scholarship to nearby University of Miami, but more hardship ensued. After a promising freshman season, he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. After working his way back the next year, he tore the ACL in his right knee. Even though he returned to rush for 948 yards and eight touchdowns as a junior, pro scouts were wary of Gore when he applied for the NFL draft in 2005.

Then general manager Scot McCloughan had to fight to convince the 49ers to draft Gore in the third round. But he saw both special talent and determination in Gore.

"He's going to do everything in his power to make himself a great player," McCloughan said at the time. "If you take football away from him, you take his life away. He's overcome a lot. He's God-given as a runner. He has balance and vision. He's a very unique back."

Gore proved that in his rookie season, rushing for 608 yards despite making just one start. But he also sustained more injuries, undergoing major surgery on both shoulders after the season.

Then there was the losing. The 49ers were 4-12 in 2005, and after one particularly hard loss to Dallas, Gore walked out of the locker room and saw several players dancing and laughing in the players' parking lot. He couldn't believe it. He broke down crying.

Gore had a number of crying bouts over his first six seasons, all outside of the playoffs. And there were more nagging injuries -- abdominal strains, ankle sprains, hip issues, bruised ribs and, in 2007, a broken hand. That '07 season was his hardest year, because his mother died in September, just before the 49ers were supposed to play a game at St. Louis.

Gore used to talk to his mother by phone before every game at a specific time.

"That day, the time came and I didn't get the call, I just burst out and cried, cried, cried," he said. "But I knew she'd want me to play. I had a pretty good game that day. I think she came on the field."

Things have been better for Gore the past two seasons under coach Jim Harbaugh. He became the 49ers' all-time career rushing leader. He's played in every game. In a 2012 season when many thought he might start slowing down, he had one of his best years -- 1,214 yards rushing, eight touchdowns. He has 209 yards and three scores in two playoff games.

In short, he seems to be getting better. Gore credited former 49ers receiver Isaac Bruce with teaching him valuable secrets to career longevity.

"He always told me, 'Don't ever go by what people say around the league or the statistics about running backs or you can't play after you reach this age,' " Gore said. "I took that in big. I just train. I feel if you just keep training, you have a chance to be in this league for a long time."

Gore's teammates attest to his relentless work regimen.

"He's the all-time leading rusher in 49ers history, but he comes to work every day like he's trying to win a job," said tackle Anthony Davis. "And he makes us take that attitude to our own work."

Many players said Gore is also generous with sage advice. Rookie tailback LaMichael James credits him with vastly improving his blocking. And how good of a blocking back is Gore?

"He's the best in the NFL ... ever," James said.

Even 49ers old-timers are carrying a torch. Former 49ers great Roger Craig said he had tears in his eyes for Gore when the 49ers won the NFC Championship.
"He's been carrying the team on his shoulders for a long time, and he's had to do it during some tough times," Craig said. "Now he's getting a chance to see what it's like to be a winner. After seeing what he's gone through to get to the Super Bowl, I'm overwhelmed for him. He deserves to see what it's like."

Gore himself was taken aback when told so many players past and present had said they want him to win the Super Bowl more than anyone.

"That makes me feel great, knowing that all the guys have a lot of respect for me," he said. "They know how much I love the game of football. And I'll do whatever it takes to win for them."

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He's no Ray Lewis, but Frank Gore inspires Niners

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Retiring linebacker Ray Lewis, in all his pulsating, gyrating, preaching glory, clearly serves as the Baltimore Ravens' inspirational leader.

His opposite number on the San Francisco 49ers? A low-key veteran who can barely be heard above a whisper.

Running back Frank Gore inspires not with his dances or speeches but rather with the devotion and hard work that have characterized his eight seasons in the NFL.

A four-time Pro Bowler and the franchise's all-time leading rusher, Gore didn't enjoy a winning season until coach Jim Harbaugh arrived on the scene in 2011. His teammates say he's a motivating force.

"It makes me feel great knowing that all of the guys have a lot of respect for me,'' Gore said, surrounded by reporters who strained to hear his soft voice. "They know how much I love the game of football and know that I'd do whatever it takes to win for them. We've been through hard times. I've been here since '05 and it took me seven years to get to the playoffs.''

Gore, 29, had another banner year in 2012, rushing for 1,214 yards – his second-highest total ever – and scoring eight touchdowns.

He was not as productive once the 49ers started relying more on the read-option in the second half of the season after Colin Kaepernick took over as the starting quarterback, but Gore delivered two touchdowns and 90 rushing yards as San Francisco reached its sixth Super Bowl by beating the Atlanta Falcons 28-24 in the NFC Championship Game.

In the second-round game against the Green Bay Packers, Gore set a career playoff high with 119 yards on the ground and also scored twice.

"I can tell you this means a lot to everybody,'' right guard Alex Boone said of getting to the title game, "but those older guys like Frank, Justin (Smith), Dave (Akers) and Randy (Moss), it's big for them and it would be big for us to get them that ring.''

That would be a crowning achievement for Gore, one he only wishes he could share with his mother, Liz, who died in September 2007 of kidney disease. She was a big fan, tried to coach him a little and used to ride a bus to watch him play while he was in high school.

Through all the trials he endured -- including knee surgeries that threatened his career -- Gore said her death was definitely the biggest test.

"She used to call me at a certain time before the game, and that day the time came and I didn't get the call, I just burst out and I cried, cried, cried,'' Gore recalled. "I know she would have wanted me to play. I had a pretty good game that day. I think she came on the field because I made a crazy run, I don't know how I broke all the tackles and got the touchdown.''

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Frank Gore Fined $10,500 By NFL


Frank Gore's calves were too much for the NFL's fashion police.

The league fined Gore $10,500 for wearing his socks too low during Sunday's NFC Championship game, his second such violation of the year. The fine was first reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Gore certainly had a lot of camera time Sunday. He led all rushers with 90 yards and scored two touchdowns, including the 49ers' go-ahead score in the fourth quarter.

He also will come out well ahead as far as money. He and the rest of the 49ers earned $40,000 bonuses for Sunday's victory. If they win on Feb. 3, they will get $88,000. The losers get $44,000.

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PHOTO: Frank Gore Throws Up "The U" After Sunday's Victory


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VIDEO: Frank Gore does the Dirty Bird


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Frank Gore Offensive Player of The Week According To Peter King

Frank Gore, running back, San Francisco. He's had surgeries on both shoulders, both knees. He's had a broken ankle. He's had a painful hip injury. But the 49ers' all-time leading rusher came through in the biggest game of his career, rushing a clock-eating 21 times for 90 yards and two vital touchdowns -- accounting for the last 14 points of the game.

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Jim Harbaugh explains his exchange with Frank Gore

SANTA CLARA -- Cameras caught running back Frank Gore engaged in an animated discussion with coach Jim Harbaugh on the sideline after the 49ers fell behind in the first quarter against the Atlanta Falcons.

That's nothing out of the ordinary, Harbaugh said.

At that point, the Falcons were marching up and down the field, and the 49ers offense had failed to move the ball at all.

A short time later, the 49ers offense kicked into high gear, with Gore rushing for 90 yards and scoring two touchdowns in helping the 49ers beat the Falcons 28-24 in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday.

"We bat it around on the sidelines during the game ... ," Harbaugh said. "It's always beneficial to our team to get his input."

Gore touched the ball twice on the 49ers first six plays, with runs for no gain and 6 yards, respectively. He totaled 20 yards on their third possession, which culminated with the 49ers first touchdown of the game.

Overall, Gore rushed for more yards than the Falcons and spearheaded a 49ers rushing attack that amassed 149 yards and three touchdowns.

"Outstanding performance by Frank Gore," Harbaugh said. "(He's) one of the all-time great competitors in the NFL. Nobody does it better than Frank Gore."
Players were given the day off Monday, so Gore was unavailable for comment.


Frank Gore shines, then praises coach for 49ers' transformation

ATLANTA (Reuters) - Frank Gore scored the winning touchdown in the San Francisco 49ers 28-24 NFC Championship win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday and immediately praised coach Jim Harbaugh for turning around the franchise.

Gore was drafted by the 49ers in 2005 during a period when one of the National Football League's most successful franchises was enduring some of its leanest years, having gone 2-14 in the previous campaign.

The five-times Super Bowl champions had losing records in five of the next six seasons before Harbaugh took over a 6-10 team in 2011 and led them to conference championship games in each of his first two seasons.

"Its been a long eight years, we have been struggling and struggling with a lot of the same guys in the locker room and we finally got the right guys in front of us, to lead us," Gore said after the 49ers erased a 17-0 deficit for the win.

"We have the right coaches, coach Harbaugh and his staff are great together ... when you get everyone together you can go a long way."

With the host Falcons leading 24-14 at halftime, Gore said Harbaugh told the team they had the ability to turn the playoff contest around.

"We are built for this type of game, when we came in here, we didn't have our head down. They told us what we had to take care of one thing at a time, 'offense have to go back out and strike and defense you have to make plays,'" said Gore, who had two unanswered touchdowns in the second half.

"We are tough, it is hard to break us. We aren't going to give up. We will keep fighting into the fourth quarter and until the game (clock) hits double zero."

The build-up to the game had been dominated by the question of how top-seeded Atlanta would cope with the running ability of 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, and Gore said that gave him an inkling he would get a chance to shine.

"I knew when I heard them saying all week 'We've got to stop Kap, stop Kap' that I was going to get a lot of opportunities," said Gore. "The offensive line did a great job and I fought."

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Frank Gore helps San Francisco 49ers rush to Super Bowl

ATLANTA -- Early in the game, when all looked lost for the 49ers, running back Frank Gore got in Jim Harbaugh's face. It was a heated discussion. Gore did not appear to be asking who had it better than them.

What was the running back telling Harbaugh with such urgency?

"I just let him know I was ready," Gore said. "And he said, 'I can see that.' "

Ready? After enduring more than his share of heartache -- not to mention actual ache -- after being drafted by a lousy team in 2005, Gore was in no mood to come up short of the Super Bowl sticks for a second season in a row.

He asked for the game to be put in his hands. And then he held on tight.

Gore rushed 21 times for 90 yards and scored a pair of second-half touchdowns, fueling a 28-24 comeback victory over the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship game.

The second of Gore's touchdowns, a 9-yarder with 8:23 left in the game, gave the 49ers the lead for good.

It also propelled one of the game's underappreciated players to his first Super Bowl, a journey that has taken eight years, 8,839 regular-season yards and more defenders stacking the box to stop him than he'd care to remember.

"We've had all those years of struggling, struggling and struggling. But we had the right guys in the locker room," he said, giving a shout out to Patrick Willis, Justin Smith, Vernon Davis, Alex Smith and Michael Crabtree. "The list goes on and on. We just stayed together and got the right guys to lead us."

After their rocky start against the Falcons, Gore and the 49ers found their stride midway through the second quarter. As the offensive players suspected, the Falcons' would focus on quarterback Colin Kaepernick on read-option plays, leaving room for Gore to gash the middle.

Gore never broke a biggie -- his longest carry went 11 yards -- but he kept banging his way for steady progress. On the 49ers' first scoring march, for example, he opened the drive with a 9-yarder and a 1-yarder, finally giving the 49ers' a first down with about a minute gone in the second quarter.

The chains were moving. The 49ers looked like themselves again.

"What's the word I'm looking for? It was vintage Frank Gore," offensive coordinator Greg Roman said.

The Falcons led 24-14 in the third quarter, but with the memories of last year's NFC title game loss still fresh, Gore said the 49ers were determined to avoid another letdown. "We knew what we had to do," he said, "and we knew we had guys to lead us."

Gore scored the game's final two touchdowns. His 5-yard touchdown run with 10:47 to play in the third quarter cut it to 24-21. Then he completed the comeback, blasting around the right side of the line and getting a key block from Davis, the tight end, to scoot into the end zone.

Gore did kind of a halfhearted version of the Falcons' famed "Dirty Bird" dance -- he'd had that in mind all week -- but said he can't quite celebrate yet.

After eight years, what's two more weeks?

"We're not done yet," Gore said. "We have one more."

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proCanes Represent More Than Any Other School on NFL Championship Weekend

In all, as many as 212 players will participate in the AFC and NFC championship games on Sunday – four teams, 53 players per team. When including players not on the active rosters of the four teams playing for a shot at the Super Bowl, however, the total jumps to more than 250.

The schools represented on the Atlanta Falcons, San Francisco 49ers, New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens range from college football's elite (Alabama, Ohio State, Texas and Florida) to those situated far outside the national picture (Hillsdale, Bellhaven, Lane and Indiana).

Here are the eight schools most represented by the four teams playing Sunday for a trip to the Super Bowl:

1. Miami (Fla.): 12. P Matt Bosher, OL Harland Gunn, DL Micanor Regis (Atlanta); LB Tavares Gooden, RB Frank Gore (San Francisco); DL Vince Wilfork, DL Marcus Forston (New England); LB Ray Lewis, OL Bryant McKinnie, RB Damien Berry, WR Tommy Streeter, S Ed Reed (Baltimore).

2. (tie) Oregon: 7. WR Drew Davis (Atlanta); RB LaMichael James, FB Will Tukuafu (San Francisco); TE Ed Dickson, DL Haloti Ngata, QB Dennis Dixon (Baltimore).

2. (tie) Florida: 7. LB Mike Peterson (Atlanta); DL Ray McDonald (San Francisco); DL Jermaine Cunningham, RB Jeff Demps, TE Aaron Hernandez, LB Brandon Spikes (New England); WR Deonte Thompson (Baltimore).

4. (tie) Alabama: 6. OL Mike Johnson, WR Julio Jones (Atlanta); DL Brandon Deaderick, LB Dont'a Hightower (New England); DL Terrence Cody, LB Courtney Upshaw (Baltimore).

4. (tie) Iowa: 6. DL Jonathan Babineaux (Atlanta); LB Jeff Tarpinian, TE Brad Herman, OL Markus Zusevics (New England); S Sean Considine, OL Marshal Yanda (Baltimore).

4. (tie) Texas: 6. OL Justin Blalock (Atlanta); CB Tarell Brown, OL Leonard Davis (San Francisco); OL Kyle Hix (New England); CB Chykie Brown, K Justin Tucker (Baltimore).

4. (tie) South Carolina: 6. DL John Abraham, DL Cliff Matthews, DL Travian Robertson, CB Dunta Robinson (Atlanta); S Emanuel Cook, CB Chris Culliver (Baltimore).

4. (tie) Ohio State: 6. OL Alex Boone, WR Ted Ginn Jr., LB Larry Grant, S Donte Whitner (San Francisco); TE Jake Ballard, S Nate Ebner (New England).
Another eight schools have five players on the rosters: Arizona State, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia, UCF, Rutgers, Syracuse and Illinois.

Teams with four players: Oklahoma State, Marshall, Michigan, Fresno State, Utah, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Missouri, Louisville, LSU and Georgia Tech.

Three players: Auburn, Wisconsin, Maryland, California, Wake Forest, Florida State, Penn State, Kansas, Purdue, Northwestern, Texas Tech and Arkansas.

Two players: Baylor, Michigan State, Stanford, Boston College, Clemson, Connecticut, ECU, Oregon State, Richmond, San Jose State, Kentucky, Montana, North Carolina, Northern Illinois, TCU, UCLA, Notre Dame, Central Michigan, Delaware, Iowa State, Colorado, Tennessee State, Nebraska, Buffalo, Arizona and Washburn.

Luck of the draw plays a role, of course, but it's a bit surprising to see that schools like Virginia Tech, USC, Oklahoma and Texas A&M only have one player each on the four rosters. Not surprising? That one player represents schools like Prairie View A&M, Lane, Harvard, Weber State, Chadron State (Danny Woodhead), Hillsdale and Hofstra (which no longer has a football program).

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Frank Gore: A Special Freshman Back, and Then Came the Injuries

Antrel Rolle has been playing football against Frank Gore since they were youngsters near Miami. When they were in high school — Rolle at South Dade, Gore a bit north in Coral Gables — Rolle always heard that Gore, blessed with elusiveness, exceptional balance and uncanny field vision, might be the best running back ever to come out of those neighborhoods, which doubled as a recruiter’s dream.

Clinton Portis saw it for himself, when, while already a University of Miami running back, he went to Gables High School games to watch the youngster he now considers a protégé playing, he said, with no socks under his cleats, no gloves on his hands, shredding heavily favored opponents by running draws and dives out of four-wide receiver sets. Portis returned to the Hurricanes practices to tell his coaches, “This Frank Gore is special.”

Rolle, now a Giants safety, said this week: “You really don’t get a full grasp of what kind of runner he is until you go against him. I will say it to the day I die, going against him, I still feel he was the best running back to come through the University of Miami before his knee injuries.”

That is the legend of Frank Gore, one of the most talented players on, perhaps, Miami’s most talented team, who was never as good as he might have been in college. He had to overcome two significant injuries, tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee just after he beat out Willis McGahee in spring practice before Gore’s sophomore season, then the one in his right knee the next season. Those injuries are why the San Francisco 49ers chose clips from Gore’s freshman season when they showed his college highlights before their playoff victory over Green Bay last weekend. That was when, with his knees still unscarred and while splitting time with McGahee and Portis as a true freshman, he averaged 9.1 yards per carry.

“At times, I look back and I say if I wouldn’t have been hurt, I would probably have been a top 5 or 10 player coming out,” Gore said in a telephone interview this week. “It didn’t go my way. I look at it as God wanted me to go a different route. Before I got injured, football was very easy, I didn’t have to work out. I guess he wanted me to work hard and appreciate the game that He blessed me with the talent to do. That’s one thing I focus on.”

Gore is now one of the N.F.L.’s best running backs, compiling his sixth 1,000-yard season in eight years. He is already San Francisco’s leading career rusher.

This season, as the 49ers have transitioned from Alex Smith to Colin Kaepernick at quarterback and advanced to Sunday’s N.F.C. championship game at Atlanta, Gore has been the same quiet, consistent force he has always been. He is not the fastest runner, nor the one with the Adonis physique, but he still reads blocks better than most, and, to Portis’s astonishment, can shake, with his movement and the angles he takes, defenders approaching from behind that he can’t even see.

Gore arrived at Miami in 2001, a stroke of luck the then-Miami coach Larry Coker acknowledges occurred because he was recruiting Gore’s best friend, Roscoe Parrish, just 10 days before signing day. Gore grew up in one of Miami’s poorest areas. His mother, Liz, was then seriously ill with kidney disease and on dialysis. Gore struggled for years with dyslexia.

But after his first team meeting at Miami, Gore went up to his position coach and told him he wanted to play. He was told he had to learn the 12 pass protections the Hurricanes used. He took the playbook home that night and at 3:30 a.m., less than five hours before practice, he called his coach at home, asking to be quizzed on the pass protections. He had learned them all.

More than 11 years later, the film still shows the special player Rolle and Portis and the others saw.

“They were saying, ‘Dang, you were fast,’ ” said Don Soldinger, the former Hurricanes running backs coach, who Gore called after San Francisco beat Green Bay last Saturday. “He was saying ‘I was the best one.’ He put me on the phone with Randy Moss and said, ‘Tell Randy Moss how good I was.’ ”

Soldinger had to talk Gore out of quitting after the second knee injury. The doctor who performed the operations, John Uribe, explained to Gore that he would be better than ever once he recovered, because his original ligament structure had not been strong enough for his knees.

Portis was already an N.F.L. rookie when Gore injured his knee the first time and remembered that Gore was devastated. He said, in each of their conversations, Gore would ask, “Bro, what do you think?” Portis always told him he could come back. Privately, though, he wondered, just like the coaches and the N.F.L. scouts, if Gore would ever be the same.

“I remember thinking, I hope he didn’t lose what he had, because he was so agile, you couldn’t get a hand on him,” Portis said. “I remember thinking, what do you tell him?”

It was Soldinger, one of the few guiding forces in Gore’s life then, who finally prevailed upon him.

“I was very frustrated,” Gore said. “He talked to me, my mom talked to me, he said keep following my rehab. I was frustrated. I felt like it wasn’t for me. He told me just keep pushing at it. He wanted me to get a chance to reach my childhood dream to have an N.F.L. career.”

That he has had one at all is why Coker uses Gore as an example to encourage his players at Texas-San Antonio when they get hurt. When Gore talked to Soldinger after the victory over Green Bay, Soldinger told him he had to make a big push now, to try to propel his team to a championship. Portis regrets that Gore’s mother, who died in 2007, did not live to enjoy what her son has become. She had encouraged him to leave Miami early to go to the N.F.L. after he played a full season following the knee injuries. Gore was certain by then that if he was healthy he could still be productive.

On Saturday, Portis watched San Francisco’s victory over Green Bay with Edgerrin James, another former Hurricanes running back, in Los Angeles and the two have plans to be in Atlanta on Sunday, three generations of Hurricanes running backs together. James wondered how much longer Gore would play and Portis guessed four or five more years, because he knows how to avoid taking a pounding to keep his body healthy. Portis wonders if Gore will finish with more yards than any of them — James rushed for 12,246 in his career, Portis for 9,923 and Gore, at age 29, has 8,839.

Portis reminisced this week about how eager a freshman Gore was, always sitting next to him on the way to games, always talking about football, always saying, “I can’t wait until my time comes.” On Sunday, Portis talked to Gore on the phone again.

“He was still excited,” Portis said. “ ‘Man, you saw that game? What do you think?’ I said, ‘Bro, you got it.’ ”

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Frank Gore accepting the pistol offense

SANTA CLARA -- Frank Gore may "love" the pistol formation now, but the 49ers' all-time leading rusher certainly didn't at first glance.

"I felt that's not real football, at first," Gore said Thursday. "But it's helping us to where we want to go, and win it all."

With quarterback Colin Kaepernick directing that multi-optional formation at times, the second-seeded 49ers (12-4-1) are on the cusp of reaching Super Bowl XLVII. They'll visit the top-seeded Atlanta Falcons (14-3) at noon Sunday in the NFC Championship Game.

Gore's impression of the pistol formation and other read-option schemes has changed since he first saw Oregon excelling with it in the college ranks.

Having played in a pro-style system since his collegiate days at the University of Miami, Gore's adapted to the type of read-option schemes that saw Kaepernick run for 181 yards — the most ever by a quarterback — in last Saturday's 45-31 win over the Green Bay Packers.

"Kap did a great job last week," Gore said. "He's big, strong, fast and they have to look out for them.

"Hopefully they keep looking out for him, then 21 (Gore's jersey number) keeps getting the ball and I do what he did last week."

Gore had 23 carries for 119 yards and a touchdown in Saturday night's playoff-opening win. He also had two receptions for 48 yards.

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Remarkably resilient Gore getting better with age in San Francisco

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- For obvious reasons, we spent much of the season marveling at the freakish recuperative powers of Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who made a serious run at the single-season rushing record despite being less than a year removed from major reconstructive knee surgery. If there were a lifetime award for playing at a high level after overcoming or playing through significant injuries, however, San Francisco running back Frank Gore might win hands down.

He tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during spring ball following a solid freshman season at the University of Miami, but was back on the practice field late that fall. The next year he tore the ACL in his right knee, but returned to run for more than 1,000 yards the following season. Since entering the NFL in 2005 as a third-round choice, he has suffered abdominal strains, ankle and shoulder sprains, a hip pointer, a broken hand and bruised ribs, among other things. Yet he has missed an average of just under 1.5 games a season the last seven years.

His resiliency is largely due to genetics and toughness, but there is an ample dose of passion in the recipe. It might not be as public as a Ray Lewis pre-game dance or speech, but it's obvious behind the closed doors of the locker room, where the soft-spoken 5-foot-9, 217-pound veteran has been known to cry at his locker after losses, or on the practice field, where during training camp in 2007 coaches had to hide his helmet because he kept sneaking onto to the practice field despite having a broken hand.

Gore was so upset with what his coaches had done that his emotions fluctuated between anger and disappointment. Never mind that he was the franchise back who had just signed a $28 million extension. His love for the game is deeper than a Langston Hughes poem.

"He was legitimately upset, down on himself, teary-eyed, mad that he's not out here practicing with us," quarterback Alex Smith said at the time.

His passion has not dissipated five seasons later. If anything it's increased, because the 49ers can advance to their first Super Bowl since the 1994 season with a win Sunday in Atlanta. They were in the same position a year ago, but lost in overtime to the visiting Giants. For Gore, the defeat hurt more than any injury he had ever experienced. If the redness in his eyes last January didn't say so, the smile on his face last Saturday after beating the Packers did.

Making that moment sweeter Saturday was Gore's ability to play through injuries. Neither he nor the team would discuss his ailment, but doctors hovered around him in the locker room and led him away for examination shortly after the media were allowed in. He returned later and said he was fine, but with Gore you never know, because he's always there when the 49ers need him.

"It's truly remarkable," says Broncos great Terrell Davis, whose career was cut short by a knee injury. "Guys typically don't come back to be the same player after that type of knee injury, and you definitely don't see many bounce back and have the type of career that Frank is having. When he had his second injury, I'm sure people wrote him off and said his career is over, or maybe he'd be just an average back at the next level. Now he's one of the top three backs in this league."

Gore turned 29 last May, which is typically the age when running backs start slowing down. But this season he ran for 1,214 yards and eight touchdowns, the rushing total the second-most in his career, and the touchdowns tying for second-most. His 8,231 yards rushing over the last seven seasons trail only Peterson (8,849) and Steven Jackson (8,416). To him, age truly is just a number. Against the Packers last week he got stronger as the game progressed, gaining 73 of his 119 yards in the final one-plus quarters.

"I've known Frank since we were little kids in Miami," says Lions linebacker Stephen Tulloch. "We played against each other in Little League, high school and college. I have more respect for him now than ever. To tear his ACL in two different legs, to lose his mother to [kidney disease], to face the injuries he's faced as a pro -- he just stays so positive and works so hard. We train together in the offseason, and he goes twice a day. He's just what you'd expect from an All-Pro."

Gore is one of the game's most complete backs, a threat as a runner and a receiver and unflinching as a protector. His football IQ is among the highest on the team, which is a testament to not only him but also position coach Tom Rathman, who got him to see the game as a quarterback does. That was invaluable, because it allowed Gore to recognize the stress points in the defense and to see where the holes and crevices would be before the snap. Not that he needed the advantage.

His vision and balance already make him a monster to bring down. He also runs low behind his pads and has the power and burst to break tackles or slip through small openings. His breakaway speed isn't what it was early in his career, and he has had to learn to be more patient with his reads after the 49ers began using more option-like zone reads with Colin Kaepernick at quarterback instead of Smith. But when it's time to deliver, he's always there.

Part of it stems from conversations he used to have with wideout Isaac Bruce, who spent two years with the Niners before retiring in his mid-30s. "He told me when I hit 28, 29, everyone was going to tell me that I'm supposed to decline," Gore says. "But he always told me, 'Don't ever listen to them. As long as you train hard, put the right stuff in your body, go out there and practice hard, you can do whatever you want to do.' Ever since he told me that, I never listen to the statistics of a running back. I know that from this point on in my career, I'm going to hear that every year, every year. As long as God blesses me in the morning to get up and work hard, I'm going to take advantage of it."

That means seeing a "muscle doctor" and massage therapist on Monday when his body is hurting. It means more therapy on Tuesday or Thursday, if necessary. It means laser therapy to help heal his soft-tissue injuries. And it means a visit with the chiropractor on Friday.

With age comes wisdom, which is why Gore now says he sees his knee injuries in college as a blessing. "I was always a hard worker, but when I was younger I didn't have to put the extra work in like some of the other guys," he says. "I'm happy that God made things happen the way that they happened because I probably would have left school real early, with my mind not right, and been a top-five, top-10 pick, not ready for that. I would have probably been hanging around the wrong guys, who were behind me just because of what I was doing.

"But when things started happening to me [from an injury standpoint] I kind of saw who my real friends were," he continues. "I'm glad God put me through that. It made me even hungrier to get back to something that I love to do. Third-round pick, looking at the other guys who I felt weren't better than me that went before me -- it always gave me something to push toward."

His primary goal used to be finishing with more career rushing yards than the running backs selected ahead of him in 2005: first-round picks Ronnie Brown, Cedric Benson and Cadillac Williams, and second-rounders J.J. Arrington and Eric Shelton. He not only has done that -- his 8,839 yards are 2,822 more than Benson -- but his six seasons of at least 1,000 yards rushing are equal to the combined total of the aforementioned five.

"The turnover at that position is so great because there's always somebody younger to take your job, so really it's a remarkable story what Frank has done," says Cardinals guard Adam Snyder, who teamed with Gore from 2005-11. "I can remember being in college and I saw the story on Frank on ESPN. I just remember thinking, 'Wow! What a story.' To have both knees blown out and still be drafted -- and that highly -- for me he's an inspiration, he really is. To just have the drive to keep going, most guys would have probably given up. But he doesn't know what that means. He's incredible."

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Frank Gore shows few signs of slowing down

Santa Clara, Calif. - Frank Gore turns 30 in May and is fast approaching 2,000 career carries in the National Football League.

Usually, those numbers signal a running back's imminent decline. There are, after all, a finite number of thudding collisions and helmet-to-helmets in a man's body.

But in Gore's case, it's hard to find evidence that the odometer has turned over. The heart of the San Francisco 49ers' offense had one of the best seasons of his eight-year career in 2012, rushing for 1,214 yards on 258 carries (4.7 average).

The 49ers (11-4-1) earned a first-round bye in the playoffs, which gave Gore an extra week to rest his body for the NFC divisional round game against Green Bay on Saturday.

"Frank's moving around really well," said 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman. "I look forward to a great playoff game from him this week."

After back-to-back weeks facing Minnesota's Adrian Peterson, the Packers now get the 5-foot-9, 217-pound Gore, who remains an elite back with speed to get outside and power between the tackles.

In the 49ers' season-opening, 30-22 victory over the Packers, Gore had 16 carries for 112 yards. He got to the edge several times and ripped off runs of 10, 16, 21 and 23 yards, scoring San Francisco's final touchdown on the 23-yarder.

But much has changed since then. Colin Kaepernick has replaced Alex Smith as the starting quarterback and the 49ers are running a lot of read-option to take advantage of Kaepernick's strengths.

Kaepernick has carried the ball 63 times for 415 yards (6.6 average) and has scored five rushing touchdowns.

In Kaepernick's seven starts since Nov. 19, Gore's numbers are a more pedestrian 118-461-3.9.

Gore doesn't know on some plays whether he's going to get the ball or Kaepernick is going to keep it.

"It's on him," Gore said. "I've just got to be patient through the line and when I've got it, that's when I've got to explode."

As for whether the adjustment has been difficult, Gore said, "I play football. I'm a football player. I can adjust."

The Packers held Peterson to 99 yards in their 24-10 wild-card victory last week, breathing a sigh of relief that he hadn't gone off for twice that amount, as he had in each of their regular-season meetings.

Gore watched the tape of the playoff game and said the only difference was that the Packers didn't let Peterson get outside. He fought for most of his yardage between the tackles.

"I think A.P. did a great job," Gore said. "He had 100 yards and if you call 100 yards not a great day, that's crazy. But they didn't let him get to the edges like he did in past games. They got the win and that's what it's all about."

Gore respects Packers coach Mike McCarthy, who was the 49ers' offensive coordinator in 2005, the running back's rookie year.

"Very smart coach," Gore said. "He knew how to get players the ball who he thought could help the team be successful. I liked Coach McCarthy a lot. When he was here that was my rookie year; we didn't really have great players like we have now.

"He had to work with what he had and I think he did a great job."

Gore will be trying to beat his former coach Saturday, and Roman wouldn't mind seeing the back carry the load.

"Ultimately, I want him to have 40 carries because that means we probably won by a huge margin and then we can just keep handing it off to him at the end of the game," Roman said. "Frank is one of the best running backs in the National Football League and we're lucky to have him.

"And we need him at his best for this game, for sure."

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Frank Gore Can Be a Key for 49ers vs. Packers

When the 49ers host the Packers this Saturday night, they need to remember Frank Gore.

No. 21, of course, hasn’t gone anywhere. He’s been in the 49ers backfield the entire season, churning out yards and making plays.

In his eighth NFL season, Gore has rushed for 1,214 yards – his second-best total as a pro  – and eight touchdowns, while also catching 28 passes for another 234 yards and a TD.

But since Colin Kaepernick took over as starting quarterback from Alex Smith in November, Gore has gone from being the focus of the offense to a complementary piece.

He had three 100-yard rushing games when Smith was the starting QB, but none over the final seven games with Kaepernick the starter.

Yet in the season-opening, 30-22 victory over the Packers in Green Bay in September, Gore pounded the Packers for 112 yards on just 16 carries – a 7-yard average – in leading a sustained ground attack that helped keep the potent Packers offense off the field.

As columnist Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group noted, for the 49ers to win their divisional-round playoff game against the Packers Saturday night at Candlestick Park, San Francisco needs to go back to its basics: running the football and playing a physical style on both offense and defense.

Though Kaepernick has brought a more wide-open, quick-strike style to the 49ers, beating the Packers may depend on whether San Francisco can play old-fashioned, run-oriented football.

“For one more week at least, the 49ers have to be bullies again,” wrote Kawakami.

The numbers indicate that the way Gore has been used since Kaepernick became the starter – and the team has adopted more read-option plays out of the Pistol offense that suits Kaepernick’s talents – is different. In the nine games started by Smith, says Kawakami, Gore averaged 5.4 yards a carry (140 carries, 753 yards). In the seven started by Kaepernick, Gore averaged 3.9 yards (118 carries, 461 yards).

The Packers, who know they’ll have to play better against the run this time against the 49ers, certainly aren’t losing focus on Gore. They know how good he is: a 5-foot-9, 217-pound slasher who seems to squeeze through impossible holes, is extremely durable and has six 1,000-yard rushing seasons.

“Frank Gore is an outstanding athlete. He makes plays for them,” Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews told reporters this week. “You’d like to think they’re going to get it going in that regard, especially with the lack of success (against the run) we’ve had in the past games.”

In their win over the Vikings last week, Green Bay gave up 167 rushing yards and 5.8 yards per attempt. In the regular season, the Packers ranked 17th in rushing defense, allowing an average of 118.5 yards per game and 4.5 per carry.

Gore has shown he’s been more effective as a runner in straight-ahead power-running formations rather than the read-option scheme. But, he’s also said he needs to evolve and learn to adapt and be more patient in that scheme.

Right offensive tackle Anthony Davis has no doubts Gore can pick up yards in this playoff game, no matter the play calls.

“We do our job, he does his and he’s as good as (heck) at his,” Davis told Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group.

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Frank Gore: 'We know we should be here'

SANTA CLARA -- Having made his playoff debut last year, Frank Gore said Wednesday he's more comfortable entering the 49ers' playoff opener Saturday against the visiting Green Bay Packers.

"Last year was like, 'Oh, we made it,' after we had so many down years," Gore said. "We know we should be here. We want to get to the Super Bowl."

Gore ran for 1,214 yards this season, including a 112-yard outing in the season-opening win at Green Bay.

Gore said he's spent the past 1 1/2 weeks getting his body ready. He also watched the Packers keep Adrian Peterson somewhat contained in the wild-card round.

"They didn't let him get to the edges like in past games," Gore said.

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Frank Gore sets franchise record with 51st rushing touchdown

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.

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