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Frank Gore watch: Former 49ers running back climbs to No. 13; top ten in striking distance

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He seems to be inching closer towards eventual inclusion in Canton.

Former San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore has begun his second season with the Indianapolis Colts, and he continues climbing the rushing leaderboard. Gore rushed 13 times for 44 yards in the Colts 34-20 loss to the Denver Broncos. The yardage moved him ahead of Franco Harris to No. 13 on the all-time rushing leaderboard, with 12,143 yards.

Gore has rushed 27 times for 103 yards through two games. The Colts are stumbling out of the gates, and with an awful defense, there’s no indication this will turn around anytime soon. Gore has gotten the bulk of the carries each week, carrying 14 of 19 times in Week 1, and 13 of 21 times in Week 2. He heads into Week 3 exactly 100 yards behind Marcus Allen for No. 12, 103 yards behind Edgerrin James for No. 11, and 136 yards behind Marshall Faulk for No. 10.

Right now, Ladanian Tomlinson, Edgerrin James, and Frank Gore are the only running backs in the top 15 who are not in the Hall of Fame. Tomlinson is a lock to be voted in next season. James was a semifinalist his first season, and a finalist this past year. He seems to be trending in the right direction, but we’ll see what 2017 brings.

Gore is off to a relatively slow start, averaging 51.5 yards per game. If we assume that average the rest of the season, he would finish with 824 yards on the season. That additional 721 yards would give him 12,864 for his career. That would place him No. 8 all time, 395 yards behind Eric Dickerson for No. 7 all time. With a decent finish to this season, he would have a good shot at climbing into the top five in rushing yards, potentially trailing only Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton, Barry Sanders, and Curtis Martin.

For comparison, Smith, Payton, and Sanders were all first ballot Hall of Famers, while Martin was a second ballot Hall of Famer. I could see a similar situation for Gore, even if he falls short of Martin before retirement. If he can climb into the top ten, I think he eventually makes it into the Hall of Fame, but my guess is it would be on the second or third ballot.