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Frank Gore wants to play as long as he can keep up in training with younger running backs

How high can Frank Gore climb up the rushing leaderboard?

We like to check in on former San Francisco 49ers from time-to-time, and Frank Gore remains a favorite. He’s going to eventually be inducted into the 49ers Hall of Fame, and stands a strong chance of earning a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Gore chatted with Indianapolis Colts reporters on Tuesday, and talked about his future. He said he is still having fun, and said that he would leave the game when he reaches the point where he can’t keep up with the younger guys he trains with in the offseason.

“If I can’t train like I’ve been training before or if I can’t keep up with the guys I train with, younger backs, that’s when I kind of say I won’t be ready. But I’m still looking good. Still keeping up with these young guys back in Miami. I should be all right. I’m going to be all right this year.”

NFL players sometimes retire on their own terms, but more often than not, the league retires them. It might be injury issues, it might be teams deciding a player has lot too much. Either way, it is usually the NFL deciding a player is done, before the player is completely ready to make that decision.

Gore enters his 13th season with a chance to get into the top five on the all-time rushing leaderboard. He has 13,065 yards, which is good for No. 8 all-time. Here is how the running backs ahead of him stand:

7. Eric Dickerson - 13,259
6. Jerome Bettis - 13,662
5. LaDanian Tomlinson - 13,684
4. Curtis Martin - 14,101
3. Barry Sanders - 15,269
2. Walter Payton - 16,726
1. Emmitt Smith - 18,355

Gore needs 620 yards this season to take sole possession of fifth place. If he rushes for 1,037 yards, he would move into fourth place. He had 1,025 yards last season, after 967 in his first season with the Colts. He could still get a 1,000-yard season, but it’s gonna be a slog for him. The Colts have improved, and added some depth behind Gore. It will be interesting to see if Gore gets all the work, or if cut into his workload a bit.

Gore would likely need to play three more seasons to get up past Barry Sanders on the all-time rushing leaderboard. He stands 2,204 yards back of Sanders, which would mean 735 yards per season each of the next three years. It’d be pretty awesome if he hung around and produced for three more years, but my guess is he retires at fifth, maybe fourth. He deserves a spot in Canton, and that might be just enough to put him over the top for some of the voters that otherwise might withhold their vote.