I'll be the first to admit that Ladanian Tomlinson is CLEARLY the Offensive Player of the Year in the NFL. He leads the NFL in rushing with 1,749 yards and set the single-season touchdown record with 31 so far (and that doesn't even include his 2 passing TDs).
I can also admit that Drew Brees has been a great story for a Saints team that is clearly America's team this year. Brees leads the NFL in passing yards and is 3rd in passer rating after more or less being forced out of San Diego. I'm sure we can all agree Miami is regretting choosing Daunte Culpepper over Brees.
However, I think a very legitimate argument can be made for Frank Gore butting into the MVP race. He's got the numbers and the impact that said numbers might not show.
Frank Gore currently leads the NFC and is third in the NFL in rushing yards. A drawback to that is that he only has 8 rushing touchdowns to LT's 28. What Gore does have going for him is that his 1542 rushing yards ranks as a higher percentage of the team's total rushing yards than Tomlinson 77% to 72%.
I'll be the first to admit that what I'm about to argue is not scientific or based directly in statistics. Rather it's just a gut feeling I get when looking at the various aspects of the 3 major MVP candidates' teams (San Diego, New Orleans, San Francisco). In baseball, the MVP race often eliminates certain candidates because they play for a losing team. The argument is brought up that an MVP leads their team to the playoffs. If you have to make the playoffs then obviously it comes down to Tomlinson and Brees.
And yet I would argue that Frank Gore has in fact carried this team much further than they would have gotten otherwise and kept them legitimately competitive to the end. Alex Smith certainly showed signs of improvement, but really Frank Gore carried this team to the precipice of the playoffs. If Kevan Barlow and Frank Gore were splitting carries this year, I think this is a 4-12 team at best yet again. Or if Frank Frank Gore put up these numbers in garbage time and the team finished 4-12 or 3-13, then clearly he's not the MVP. Yet this team was competitive week in and week out (for the most part) and a few bounces the other way and they're in the playoffs this year and not talking about the playoffs for next year.
I'm not here to argue that LT and Drew Brees shouldn't win the MVP. Rather, I simply am arguing that Frank Gore should at least be included more prominently in the conversation. This 49ers team is on the verge of turning things completely around and I think he's a big part of the reason why they took such a big step this year.