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Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Frank Gore’s former 49ers coach once praised the running back in a hilarious way

Sep 17, 2020 at 7:21 AM--

The San Francisco 49ers could see a healthy dose of Frank Gore on Sunday when they travel to MetLife Stadium to play the New York Jets. The running back remains the 49ers' all-time rushing leader. He started his career with the team, played 10 seasons with San Francisco, and remains a fan favorite.

Gore even has admirers on the current 49ers roster. Running back Raheem Mostert once asked former Niners tackle Joe Staley about Gore. Staley and Gore played eight seasons together.

"I asked him, 'What does it take for a guy like me to be like Frank Gore?'" Mostert shared this past offseason. "Because Frank Gore is my idol. I love watching him play, and I know that Joe was blocking for him when he was here. So, I just asked him the question about Frank Gore, and he just flat out told me, 'Hey, Frankie G, he likes to work.'"

Mostert added during a KNBR interview on Wednesday that's he's excited to see Gore again after speaking with him at the Super Bowl and planning to practice with him over the offseason. COVID-19, of course, ended those plans.

"I'm excited to talk to him this weekend," Mostert said, "and see if we can swap jerseys or something like that. That would be nice."

Gore continues to have a love for his former team. I remember a conference call with the running back in 2017 during his time with the Indianapolis Colts. It had been three years since Gore wore red and gold, but the running back was still very interested in what was going on with his old team.

Typically, reporters ask the player a bunch of questions on such a conference call. Gore, however, turned the tables on everyone and started the media session by asking several questions about his former team. And it wasn't a player fishing for information about an opponent to find a weakness. It was a genuine interest. It was like talking to a fan.

At the time, Kyle Shanahan's squad was young and didn't resemble the championship-caliber team we saw last season.

"I think they're going in the right direction," Gore told reporters at the time. "They're really tough. I like their coaching staff. I like what they're doing on offense."

Gore started his NFL career in 2005 as a backup to Kevan Barlow. It would be the latter's last season with the 49ers. After that rookie campaign, Gore rattled off eight seasons of 1,000-or-more yards over the next nine years with San Francisco.

Former 49ers VP of player personnel and general manager Scot McCloughan recently shared a hilarious story for a great feature on Gore from The Athletic.

"We're sitting there after the first week of training camp and we go around the room by position," McCloughan said. "And we get to the running backs. And (running backs coach Bishop Harris is) a character, anyway. And we're like, 'OK, Bish, what do you think? Who do we keep at running back?' And he said, 'I know this: You could blindfold that No. 21 and he could run for more touchdowns this year than Barlow. Blindfolded! I'm telling you right now, guys.'"

That is some high praise for Gore, who was still new to the league.

McCloughan explains that Gore was miserable sitting behind Barlow, and insisted he should be getting the football more. Barlow, however, was a highly-paid offensive player, and Gore was a third-round pick.

"I said, 'Frank, you've got to wait. You're a third-round pick,' McCloughan said. "He said, 'I'm a first-round pick. You know it.' I said, 'Yeah … but you're a third. You've got to wait your time. The position coach loves you. The coordinator's starting to love you.' He was frustrated."

The 49ers traded Barlow to the Jets before the start of the 2006 season. Gore went on to have a fantastic career with San Francisco. His 11,073 rushing yards are the most in franchise history.

Gore is now in his 16th NFL season, and his 15,371 career rushing yards ranks third all-time in NFL history. Only Emmitt Smith and Walter Payton had more.

"Every year around this time, I see a story about Frank," said former offensive lineman Eric Heitmann. "He just keeps finding a home in the NFL. I can remember thinking four or five years ago, 'Man, there's no way he's still playing.'"

Head coach Kyle Shanahan on Wednesday praised the veteran running back, whom he has admired since serving as an offensive quality control coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"I love Frank Gore," Shanahan told reporters. "I think he's one of the best running backs to ever to play. I think one of the more underrated running backs to ever play. His longevity and numbers now have finally given him a little bit more attention that is past due."

Whenever Gore decides to call it a career, he plans to retire the right way.

"I'm going to [retire as] a Niner, you know, I've been there – that's who drafted me, gave me the opportunity to come into this league, to be a professional ball player, and I was there 10 years, man," Gore said last year. "That's my home, my second home. It would be right to go back – if I have to do a one-day [contract], sign that and I'll be a Niner for life."

Click here to read the full feature on Gore over at The Athletic.

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