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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