On Monday morning, Hightower posted a picture from inside the locker room, showing his nameplate with uniform number 21. Fans were initially taken aback given the fact that Frank Gore was the last guy to wear No. 21, and he is on the short list of greatest players in franchise history.
When Hightower posted the picture to Instagram, his caption included hashtags stating that it had simply been assigned to him and that the number should be retired. The 49ers have a new equipment staff under their new head coach, and clearly it was simply a mix-up in how to handle assigning a new number.
The 49ers will not be retiring Frank Gore’s number while he continues playing, but it seems like a number that will not be used anytime soon. They could elect to retire the number, but I’m also curious how much we see them use the team Hall of Fame to honor players over retiring numbers. They have a lot of numbers available, but at some point the franchise would eventually run out of numbers if they have any kind of sustained success. So, we’ll see what the next few years brings once Gore retires.