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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