With Frank Gore officially signing his three year extension on Tuesday, it got me thinking about Frank Gore's career and legacy as a 49er. At 28 years of age, Gore is likely nearing the end of his prime. With this extension, Gore has a decent chance of ending his career has a 49er. If he plays through his contract, he will be on 49ers' 10-year wall.
I started to ask myself this question: Did the 49ers waste the prime of Frank Gore's career? Since coming to the 49ers in 2005, Gore has been a part of some of the worst offensive teams the franchise has ever seen. He has put up impressive numbers and broke the team's single season rushing record, but could he be in the conversation of the NFL's great running backs if he had been on a better team through the prime of his career?
Gore was one of the first pieces to Mike Nolan's rebuilding project. He and Alex Smith were supposed to be the foundation of a great offense in San Francisco. While with the 49ers, here is a list of the quarterbacks that Frank Gore has lined up with:
I'm going to stop there for two reasons: Those were the guys I could name off of the top of my head and I also think I'm going to be sick if I continue. The main point of the list is to show that Gore has not played with anyone resembling an elite quarterback.
Gore has had to endure some pretty rough coaching as well. His head coaches in his career have been Mike Nolan and Mike Singletary. His offensive coordinators haven't been much better. He did have Mike McCarthy during his rookie season, but he wasn't a full-time starter yet. His best year came under Norv Turner, a great offensive coordinator, but he bolted after one season to coach the Chargers. The Chargers decided to fire their coach after going 14-2 for a coach that hadn't even won in the regular season. Since then, it's been a tough go for Gore.
Gore has been the best player on the 49ers offense since 2006, there is no doubt about that. But with little help from the rest of the offense, he has had to face eight or even nine-man fronts for most of his career. He has never played with a great quarterback, never had a good offensive line and never had a good head coach.
Just imagine Frank Gore with those Super Bowl winning Denver Broncos teams in the late '90's. Replace Terrell Davis with Gore and he may have one of the greatest seasons for a running back ever. That offensive line and zone blocking scheme could make any running back look good.
I hope the 49ers turn their fortunes around soon while Frank Gore is still at or near his peak. It would be a shame if he wasted most of his career on losing teams. Besides Takeo Spikes, I cannot think of a player who deserves to go to the playoffs more than Frank Gore.