Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Would the 49ers bring back Frank Gore? Kyle Shanahan responds

Sep 22, 2021 at 1:59 PM--

San Francisco 49ers fans hoping to see running back Frank Gore, the team's all-time rushing leader, suit up in red and gold again shouldn't give up hope. There's always a chance.

At least that's the impression that head coach Kyle Shanahan gave before practice today while speaking with reporters.

The 49ers have taken on a slew of injuries at the running back position, starting with Jeff Wilson hurting his knee over the offseason and Raheem Mostert suffering a season-ending knee injury in the 49ers' 41-33 win over the Lions in Week 1. Rookies Elijah Mitchell (shoulder) and Trey Sermon (concussion) were added to the list during the 49ers' 17-11 Week 2 win over the Philadelphia Eagles last Sunday, as was second-year back JaMycal Hasty (ankle), who has already been ruled out for this week's game against the Green Bay Packers. With all of those injuries on the books, some 49ers fans have naturally wondered if there was any chance of a reunion with the 38-year-old Gore, who has remained a fan favorite ever since the 49ers parted ways with him following the 2014 season.

The 49ers to this point have chosen a different direction, as earlier today the team signed running back Chris Thompson to their practice squad one day after they added running back Jacques Patrick to their 53-man roster from the Cincinnati Bengals' practice squad. But Shanahan did not count out the possibility of signing Gore when asked about it earlier today.

"I think I would never put anything past Frank," Shanahan said. "I know if I probably give him a little heads-up and some notice, he'll always be ready to where he could help a team."

Shanahan went on to say that there was still a chance Sermon and Mitchell could play this week, which would give them a full crop of backs to go with Patrick and Trenton Cannon. The team also liked the thought of taking a running back from another team, which led them in part to sign Patrick.

"I thought it was a little early for that," Shanahan said of signing Gore. "Our guys still have a chance of playing this week. So we looked at it as an opportunity with not having 53 on our roster to try to steal someone off someone else's practice squad, which we did, and then try to add a practice squad guy, which we did with Chris."

Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network recently reported that Gore has been turning away other interested teams while choosing to focus on starting a career in boxing. Gore told Rapoport that he hadn't decided if he wanted to play football this season but was still staying prepared while working on making the transition to the ring.

"I've been training for both -- football and boxing," Gore told Rapoport earlier this month. "I've always loved boxing, so that's what I've been doing. And we're trying to make a fight happen. If we do that, you'll see me in the ring."

But Gore has always had a fondness for the 49ers, so maybe they'd be the one team that could pry his focus away from boxing if they ever decided to give him a call. Shanahan suggested that the 49ers will at least be keeping Gore in mind.

"I never fully rule that out," Shanahan said. "I don't know exactly where he is right now, but we've got a number of people in here who've got a relationship with him. If that time ever comes where we need to do that and he wants to do it, I would never rule it out."

Gore currently sits third atop the NFL's career rushing leaders list with exactly 16,000 yards, behind only Emmitt Smith (18,355) and Walter Payton (16,726). He played with the New York Jets in 2020 and totaled 653 yards and two touchdowns on 187 carries in 15 games. In the meantime, the 49ers will be preparing for Sunday's game against the Packers (8:20 p.m. PT/5:20 p.m. PT, NBC) as if any or all of the running backs they currently have available will need to see the field.

"There's a chance we might only be down one compared to last week," Shanahan said. "There's a chance there might be a whole new group, which would be down to our sixth on the year. So you've got to be planning for everything."

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