The San Francisco 49ers allowed long-time running back Frank Gore to hit the open market last offseason, and made clear their plans of rolling with Carlos Hyde as the starting running back of the future. Gore wound up signing with the Indianapolis Colts, and while it was and still is jarring to see him in a different uniform, many here were happy to see him sign with a contender like Indianapolis.
Unfortunately, Gore, who has been denied a Super Bowl ring despite consistent greatness, landed on a Colts team in the middle of a massive collapse. Gore fought hard on every single snap, but he was unable to do much behind a terrible offensive line and was unable to bail out a regressing quarterback.
Gore, at 32 years of age, ran for 967 yards, averaging 3.7 yards per carry. He said after the season that it was the hardest 967 yards he had ever fought for, and it was the first time he'd finished a season with less than 1,000 yards since 2010. It was the first time he's finished with under 1,000 yards while playing a full 16-game season ever.
I've been adamant in my belief that Gore will not hit a wall and become completely incapable of running before he decides to call it a career. I have high confidence that the man will put enough into his game on the field that he will be useful so long as he wants to keep playing. And I think Gore looked good last season, all things considered.
Given what actually happened around Gore this season, I don't think he lost a step. I think the Colts were just that big of a mess. Which brings me to my question: will Gore be there next season?
Gore signed a three-year deal last offseason, at an average of $4 million per year. The 49ers had reportedly offered him a 1-year, $4 million deal, but the Colts' offer was better. Gore was paid $4.5 million last season and has a roster bonus of $3 million for 2016. If the Colts wanted to part ways, they'd need to do it quickly.
I don't expect that to happen though. I think the Colts will want to keep Gore around, and I think if the team gets the offensive line and Andrew Luck under control, then Gore will look like his old self. The Colts are likely impressed by the hard-fought 967 yards and know that could easily be a lot more with a better supporting cast.
I wouldn't be surprised if the Colts once again tried to address the position, but I would expect the team to try to fix areas around him and stick with him as the starter going in to 2016.
Gore's career and where it's going is definitely interesting to me and hopefully it's interesting to you. This past season, Gore pulled into 15th place on the all-time rushing yardage list, breaking the 12,000 rushing yards mark and pulling up to 12,040 for his career. If Gore had a 1,000 yard season, he could move all the way up into the top 10 and beyond. It's worth noting that Adrian Peterson, at 11,675 yards, will likely pass Gore at some point, and Steven Jackson is 18th at 11,438 yards.
Jackson isn't a threat at this point but it sure would be nice to see Gore shoot up that leaderboard. He'll do just that if he has a major role this season.