First, congratulations to Harris Barton who joins Bob St. Clair at tackle on our offensive line. I'd imagine Barton, St. Clair, McIntyre, Cross and Sapolu would be a pretty amazing offensive line. Even more amazing is the fact that at one point 4 of the 5 were on the same team. Not too shabby.
We spent the last few weeks putting together our offensive line and now it's time to get back to a glamor position: running back. The running back position has always been talented, but the last twenty five years has seen an amazing array of talents fill the role. Combined with other historical 49ers, we're left with plenty of guys who unfortunately cannot make the cut. I put up the FanPost about Frank Gore, because he is one of those guys on the fence. As you see below, I decided to include him.
Roger Craig (1983-1990): Not a whole lot needs to be said about the man who is #2 in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns, #3 in receptions and #9 in receiving yards. Before Marshall Faulk, there was Roger Craig. In 1985, Craig became the first running back to finished with 1,000 rushing AND receiving yards. The previous season he became the first player ever to score three touchdowns in a Super Bowl. Roger Craig went to 4 Pro Bowls and was the NFL Offensive Player of the Year in 1988 as he finished with 2,036 total yards. Craig still stands as the only running back to ever lead the NFL in receptions in a season. He finished his career with 13,143 total yards and 73 total touchdowns.
Hugh McElhenny (1952-1960): McElhenny was the 49ers first round pick in 1952 and was immediately a hit on the field. He won Rookie of the Year, along with back to back Pro Bowl and 1st Team All Pro appearances his first two seasons. Over the course of his career, McElhenny went to six Pro Bowls and finished his 49ers career with 4,288 rushing yards, 2,666 receiving yards and 50 total touchdowns.
Garrison Hearst (1997-2003): I don't know of anybody who doesn't like Garrison Hearst. One big reason is this short little run. Hearst finished his time with the 49ers with 5,535 rushing yards. That number would have likely been quite a bit higher if not for the nasty broken ankle he suffered against Atlanta on the first play from scrimmage in the Divisional playoffs. He developed the necrosis condition that led to Bo Jackson's retirement and seemed finished, although the 49ers kept him on the roster. Two years later, Hearst came backa nd rushed for 1,206 yards, winning his second Comeback Player of the Year award. The next two years saw him slowly phased out of the offense, replaced by the immortal Kevan Barlow.
Frank Gore (2005-present): Gore has only been a 49er for three years, a starting running back for two of them. In that time he has set the 49ers single season rushing record and twice led the team in receptions. Gore currently stands #10 in the 49ers all-time rushing list. Considering he's 5,284 yards out of first place and signed for the next four seasons, Gore could definitely get within striking distance of the #1 spot. I'm guessing he won't reach Roger Craig's receptions by a running back number, but considering how active he is in the passing game (particularly now with the addition of Mike Martz), Gore could finish his career challenging Roger Craig as the best running back in team history.