The San Francisco 49ers head into the 2014 season with an intriguing 2-headed monster at running back that features Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde. LaMichael James could work his way into that group, and maybe Marcus Lattimore gets back on the field this year, but for now, Gore and Hyde are the guys who will handle the 49ers running game.
Unfortunately, this could also be the last season we get to see Frank Gore in a 49ers uniform. He is entering the final season of his contract, and the 49ers are a team fast approaching the salary cap ceiling. The team continues adding young running backs each year, with Carlos Hyde the latest to potentially usurp Gore's role.
Gore will turn 32 next offseason, but he continues to march along. His numbers are not all-world, but he quietly handles his business. He remains incredibly underrated for what he does across the board, with Steve Young declaring him the most underrated player he has ever known.
Amidst all the uncertainty surrounding his future, Frank Gore is handling it with incredible class. We've heard plenty about how he is frequently working with Carlos Hyde to help him improve. He's talked about how he is not concerned about younger guys taking his job, so he might as well help them improve. Earlier today, he was speaking with the media and he had this to say:
Frank Gore on '14 and beyond: If I’m not here (in '15), I would love to show the other teams what I can do. I would love to be here, though.— Eric Branch (@Eric_Branch) August 20, 2014
Often times when a player is nearing the end of his contract, particularly older players, there can be some gnashing of teeth. Sometimes it gets into issues of respect, which can end up creating problems. In the case of Frank Gore, he is just rolling along, trying to earn himself a ring:
#49ers Frank Gore on being in last year of contract: "This year I’m playing for a Super Bowl … I’m not even thinking about an extension."— Eric Branch (@Eric_Branch) August 20, 2014
Players can often talk a good game about that, but there is no reason to think this isn't the god's honest truth from Frank Gore. He has accomplished virtually everything a player can accomplish in his career. He has become the franchise's all-time leading rusher, while helping resurrect them into a potential championship caliber team. All he has left to do is win a Super Bowl.
I often think that given how people figured he was done after multiple knee surgeries, he is able to enjoy the fruits of what had to be intense rehab. Considering his career was almost before it started, it might be easier for him to let it all just roll off his back. He's accomplished so much, and he is just enjoying playing football. We don't really know what's going on in his head, but based on everything he has said and done, he just seems to roll along without a care in the world.