Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

49ers’ Kyle Shanahan praises Frank Gore: “He’s right there with the top backs of all time”

Jun 15, 2022 at 3:10 PM--

There is great respect between the San Francisco 49ers, Frank Gore, and the fans. On June 2, the legendary running back signed a one-day contract with the 49ers, officially retiring with the team that drafted him in 2005.

Gore continues to cheer for his former squad, even doing so while playing elsewhere in the NFL. He has a strong relationship with team CEO Jed York and loves The Faithful. The fans love him back.

Count 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan among the many who hold a great deal of respect for everything Gore accomplished during his 16 years in the NFL.

"He's right there with the top backs of all time," Shanahan said during the 49ers' State of the Franchise event. "Everyone can go through your backs and pick your one, and I think everyone jumps at Barry Sanders because he's the most obvious one. No one could touch him ... But there's all different opinions. It depends what situation you get in, the O-line, to have those stats and everything, but Frank is as good as anybody."

Shanahan remembers entering the NFL as a quality control coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The 49ers drafted Gore the next year. Shanahan sat in on draft preparation meetings, listening to evaluations of prospects. When the running backs came up, the Buccaneers scouts ranked others ahead of Gore. Tampa Bay ended up selecting Cadillac Williams in the first round. The 49ers drafted Gore two rounds later.

"I just remember at a young age seeing [Gore's film] and saying, 'Why isn't that guy the best one?'" Shanahan said.

The others on the staff explained that Gore had dealt with injuries in college, creating concerns about how long he might last in the NFL.

"So he goes in the third round, and he doesn't [get hurt], and he makes it," Shanahan continued. "So that's the story I always go to. Then there's a lot [of players] that work out the other way. But Frank's always been that good. And to watch the adversity he had in college, and coming in the league, every year he ran the same; and how hard he ran, how he always hit the right hole, how you had to tackle him, he made people tackle him. He was never going to go down unless you did everything you could to get him.

"And he did it for about 100 years. That's what blows my mind. I don't care how tough you are, running back is different than every other position in sports. Whether it's high school, college, or the NFL, it's just different. And you watch these guys, and it's tough to keep that up. Not only the talent but the mindset of just doing it. You've got to not only have the body to do it, but there's got to be something different inside, and Frank's had that forever."

Shanahan added that Gore didn't just excel at carrying the football. He was a dominant blocker, too, making him a phenomenal all-around player.

General manager John Lynch was a Pro Football Hall of Fame finalist eight times before finally being inducted into Canton. He doesn't expect Gore, who becomes eligible in 2026, to have to wait as long as he did. Lynch was asked if he believes Gore is a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

"I would think so," Lynch responded. "I think his record speaks for itself."

Gore finished his illustrious career with 16,000 rushing yards. Only Emmitt Smith (18,355) and Walter Payton (16,726) rank higher on the all-time list. Gore's 11,073 rushing yards through 10 seasons with San Francisco are the most by a single player in franchise history.
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