At 31-years old, Frank Gore defied age once again in 2014, and bucked the trend of older running backs struggling to maintain a high level of play.
Despite an inconsistent workload, Gore still managed to gain 1,106 yards on the ground which was good for ninth best in the NFL. He saved his best for last, gaining 302 of that total in the final two games.
After 10 years and 11,073 yards, it’s hard to imagine the 49ers taking the field without their all-time leading rusher. That could be the case in 2015, however, as Gore is a free agent.
Although his contract status is still up in the air, general manager Trent Baalke made it clear recently that he has every intention of trying to bring Gore back to the team.
“We’re still working on it,” said Baalke. It’s not something that’s going to get done yesterday. It’ll take some time to resolve. It’s our intention to have Frank back.”
Whether or not the deal actually gets done remains to be seen. Gore will be 32 when the season starts, and any contract will need to be short term and for less than money than he is accustomed to making. It’s always possible another team could swoop in and offer Gore more money, and there were rumors that the Indianapolis Colts could be interested.
If Gore does not return to the 49ers, they are equipped to handle the loss. Carlos Hyde showed flashes of brilliance in his rookie year, and could step into the lead role. San Francisco will also be welcoming back Kendall Hunter, who missed 2014 with a knee injury. Hunter played well when spelling Gore from 2011-2013, gaining 1,202 yards on 262 carries.
The 49ers could also look to draft a running back at some point, or dip into the free agent pool. Early reports indicated that the team could be interested in Ryan Matthews if we Gore were to leave. When healthy, Matthews performed well for the San Diego Chargers, and is a solid option on an incentive laden deal.
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