Fooch's Update: This is a solid FanPost, so I thought I would move it to the front page on a fairly quiet day.
Frank Gore has been a focal point of the San Francisco 49ers offense since he arrived in the league in 2005. The offense has centered around him, no matter who was coaching, calling plays, or playing quarterback. He has been the heart and soul of the 49ers offense throughout his career and continues to do so. He is getting older, but seems to have not lost a step in his play. His running style and his veteran instincts guide his continuing success in the league. No doubt, a solid offensive line helps Frank out, but he was great even when the Niners were not. He was always the engine that never let up, chugging along every Sunday. As a Niners fan there is one player you have a special place in your heart for, and that is Frank. He is the player that every Niner fan wants to get a Super Bowl ring, because he deserves it the most.
Frank has been the starting running back since his second year in the league. That year he led the NFC in rushing yards, and set the new franchise record for rushing yards and combined yards. He hasn't looked back since. Not only has Frank been a great runner, but he has also caught plenty of passes, and picked up pass rushers using extraordinary blocking skills. He is one of the top overall running backs in the league, year in and year out. Gore has played in at least fourteen games every year of his career except one. He is reliable, consistent, and trustworthy, on top of being extremely talented.
It seems that for the past couple of years, every offseason people are saying, "that was Frank's last good year," or "Gore will fall off this year." Except he hasn't. And all of his last years have been good years, including last year. Yet this year the same birds are chirping. The 49ers have talented running backs Marcus Lattimore and Carlos Hyde in the stable ready to be let loose. They have backups Kendall Hunter, and LaMichael James ready to step in at anytime. But Frank Gore hasn't needed any backups or replacements, except for a few downs per game. So this year it shouldn't come to anyone's surprise when he continues to succeed, and do what he does best, be a darn good running back.
But this year is different in one way. Gore's contract is up at the end of this year. None of the Niners or their fans wants to see Frank leave, but this may not turn out the way they want. It is a business after all, and as good as Frank is, he is only getting older. Unless he takes a major hometown discount, which he may in fact do, this is more than likely his final year playing for the Niners. A devastating realization to the organization, and even more so to its fans. The team has plenty of talent to replace him, but those shoes are big to fill. And the shoes are even bigger when it comes to what he represents to the team and its fans. In a sense Frank Gore can never be replaced. What he has done and what he represented will not be forgotten.
The way it can all end in the perfect way for Frank and Niner fans is that Frank retires after this year. He won't need to figure out any contract details, or test free agency. He will simply retire. He will take his great legacy with him. The fans will always feel the same way they do about him and he can be at peace with retiring. Because he will retire with what he deserves, a Super Bowl ring.