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Is Frank Gore a Hall of Famer? A look inside the numbers

Al Sacco
Dec 29, 2014 at 12:11 PM13

Frank Gore defied age again in 2014, and bucked the trend of running backs over the age of 30 struggling to play at a high level.

Despite an inconsistent workload and an inept passing game, the 31-year old Gore still managed to gain 1,106 yards on the ground and averaged 4.3 yards per carry.

It was the eighth time in 10 professional seasons Gore has eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark, bringing his career total to 11,073 (which is good for 20th on the all-time NFL rushing list).

It's safe to say that Gore has made a strong case to be considered for enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame regardless of whether or not he ever plays another down, but how do his numbers stack up against some of the other most prolific running backs in history?

The general thought is that the magic number for backs to be considered for the Hall is at least 10,000 yards. While only 29 players in the history of the NFL have accomplished this feat, 10,000 alone does not carry a lot of weight in terms of getting in.

There are currently nine running backs who fall between 10,000-10,999 yards rushing for their careers. None of them are, or most likely will be, inducted into the Hall of Fame. Those nine players are Warrick Dunn, Rickey Watters, Jamal Lewis, Thomas Jones, Tiki Barber, Eddie George, Otis Anderson, Adrian Peterson (still active), and Ricky Williams.

In the case of Peterson, however, it could be his off-the-field issues that keep him out regardless of whether he keeps adding to his total or not. His on-the-field accomplishments would warrant heavy consideration.

Of the remaining 20 players who have 11,000 yards or more, 13 of them (Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton, Barry Sanders, Curtis Martin, Eric Dickerson, Tony Dorsett, Jim Brown, Marshal Faulk, Marcus Allen, Franco Harris, Thurman Thomas, John Riggins, and O.J. Simpson) are in the Hall of Fame.

Of the remaining seven (minus Gore), LaDainian Tomlinson is a sure bet to get in when eligible and Jerome Bettis should get there eventually. They currently stand fifth and sixth all-time with over 13,600 yards a piece.

The other four are Edgerrin James (12,246 yards), Fred Taylor (11,695), Steven Jackson (11,388, still active), and Corey Dillon (11,241), all of whom have less of a chance.

Gore currently trails every other back in the 11,000 plus yards club, although may be able to add to that total if he continues to play.

Another factor to look at is touchdowns.

Gore has 75 total scores thus far in his career, and averages 7.5 per season. Of the 13 11,000 plus yard backs inducted into Canton, only four of them have less than 100 total touchdowns (Dickerson, Dorsett, Thomas and Simpson).

Gore has also never won a rushing title, although that may not carry as much weight as you would think. Five of the 13 failed to win a rushing title during their careers (Thomas, Riggins, Harris, Faulk and Dorsett).

In terms of being a dual threat, Gore was a prolific pass catcher when asked to do so, averaging 51 receptions a year from 06-10. He hasn't been asked to play that role recently though, as he's only caught a total 72 passes over the past four years.

Gore also had the misfortune of playing on some poor teams prior to 2011. The 49ers' record in Gore's first six seasons from 2005-2010 was 37-59 with no playoffs appearances. San Francisco has gone 44-19-1 since then, and have appeared in three NFC Championship games and a Super Bowl.

Through 8 playoff games, Gore has 140 carries for 646 yards and five touchdowns. He was outstanding in the Super Bowl, gaining 119 yards and a score, showing that when given the chance, Gore can shine on the big stage.

Beyond that stats, it should also be noted that in the era Gore played in, he was one of the best blockers at his position. Also, he's managed to play nine seasons as a bell cow, feature back, during a time in football when those kind of players are almost extinct.

Based on numbers alone, If Gore were to call it quits right now you'd have to say he's a borderline Hall of Famer. However, when you include his all around game and consider the era he played in, it may be enough to put him over the top.

Even if Gore is kept out, or it takes him a while to actually get in, it won't take away from what he's meant to the 49ers over the past decade. He's been a true professional in good times and bad, and will go down as arguably the best running back in franchise history.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


  • JR San Diego (HearstFan)
    Gore is great, and if it was just football players voting he might get in. But although he has great numbers, and is a complete back (excellent pass pro) in the modern game, he doesn't do enough to garner media attention. The HOF backs all did something, had a unique dimension to their game that got them a lot of media coverage - Barry Sanders' astounding highlights, Riggins' toughness, Dickerson's unique power and speed, etc. Gore had a couple of years where he kept breaking off long runs, but otherwise his runs a pretty vanilla in terms of highlight reel stuff. I don't see him getting into the HOF for that reason.
    Jan 25, 2015 at 11:14 AM
  • Tom
    Gore has been a great back for the Niners and his run may not yet be over but I don't really see him as a Hall of Famer. He has been a solid, professional throughout his career but I'm not sure that he has in anyway fundamentally changed or enhanced the nature of the position or how it is played, which you would think would be a primary consideration. It's sort of like Eli Manning, he has won two Super Bowls but I have never considered him worthy of Canton, unlike his brother who is a certain lock for the Hall.
    Jan 14, 2015 at 1:12 PM
  • casey
    i read the last few sentences.. to me theres more of a case for him not to make it. dont get it twisted. i absolutely love franklin delano gore. i just dont think voters will look at frank and say ok this guy has never led the league in rushing, had a 2k season, no rings.. if they include the fact he's the greatest pound for pound blocking hb OF ALL TIME then ya and he's an underrated catcher but still i think theres more of a case not. idk. i hope im dead wrong!
    Jan 12, 2015 at 2:44 PM
  • rgonelove
    Frank Gore is definitely a hall of famer I just hope he doesn't get cheated of that honor like Roger Craig had been
    Jan 9, 2015 at 5:16 AM
  • Peter
    Also to consider is that he plays against defenses that are far more superior to players in the past. They didn't call it the Slow-mo-pro for nothing.
    Jan 3, 2015 at 11:26 PM
  • Shane
    All of you non hall of game boo hope's are absolutely crazy. Niners not in the stats as stated morons it's that he is one of the of not the best blitz pick up rb in nfl history. That plus the numbers it's a no Brainer. Wow factor, please. No rings,please. Hire about our Roman gives him the ball in the super bowl. He gets the ring and there's your wow factor.
    Jan 1, 2015 at 6:09 PM
  • Ed
    Frank Gore is a Hall of Famer. For starters, he has the stats to back it up, and will probably play a couple more years at least, so those stats will only increase. But aside from that, he is a true professional and one of the most respected players. And his blocking abilities, those don't show up in stats but he is one of the best. In a league filled with thugs and trash-talkers, Gore stands above them all. Simply a class act that will go down as the best running back in Niner history.
    Dec 31, 2014 at 2:04 AM
  • Stewart
    I often thought that of all the 49er backs to get in it would be Roger Craig, simply given the way he helped redefine the position. But clearly Gore has put together a much more impressive resume (outside of SB wins) then Craig ever did. I think that if Gore plays another year or two, the borderline becomes more set in stone. You have to assume he would crack the 13k mark under that scenario which would put him easily into the top ten rushing. And that is if he averaged 963 yards over two seasons.
    Dec 30, 2014 at 2:53 PM
  • BILAL19
    Gore is a future Hall Of Famer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The man produces now , just as he did in college. Frank is the Truth so stop kidding yourselves with all this mumbo jumbo.
    Dec 30, 2014 at 6:13 AM
  • Sean
    You want amazing runs Edd? Gore Has 81 (20 ) yd runs & 19 (40 ) yd runs with a long of 80. He has runs of 40 (2x), 41, 42, 43, 47, 50, 51 (2x), 52, 53, 55, 61, 64 (2x), 72 (2x), 79, & 80. To include runs of 50 & 51 wk 11 in 06 against the Seahawks, Runs of 79 & 80 against the Seahawks in wk 2 in 09, & runs of 47 & 55 in wk 6 in 2011 against the Lions. Only 1 other RB (B. Sanders) ever had two TD runs of over 75 yards in a game prior & only MJD since & as far as (40 )yd runs W. Payton had 19 (40 ) yd runs, E. Smith had 18 (40 ) yd runs, T. Thomas & M. Allen each had 6 (40 ) yd runs, Riggins had 4 (40 ) yd runs. Gore also has 8 1000 yd seasons which is more than Riggins or allen & matches Thomas. The long of 80 yards is longer than any runs by E. Smith, Riggins, Allen, & Payton & ties Thomas' longest. Gore has a 4.5 yd per rush average which is better than Riggins 3.9, Allen's 4.1, E. Smith's & Thomas' 4.2, Tomlinson's 4.3, & Payton's 4.4. & Gore has 37 (100 ) yard games which is more than Marcus Allen with 25 & Riggins 29 & 2 (200 ) games which is more than Allen & Riggins with 0 & Thomas & Smith with 1 & ties Payton. Definitely Hall of Fame Worthy in my eyes.
    Dec 30, 2014 at 12:33 AM
  • Edd
    Love Frank Gore, heart and soul of the 49ers for years now. But he just isn't hall-of-fame caliber. He propped up a crappy team for years, and supplemented a good team for the last 4 years. But he really never blew me away with amazing runs. Sanders, Allen, Thomas, Riggins, etc had the wow factor. Frank never did.
    Dec 29, 2014 at 5:10 PM
  • tim
    If Gore does not make the hall of fame.... the hall of fame is a joke. It's not even close to being a question.
    Dec 29, 2014 at 3:44 PM
  • Braskey
    Gore is good, Gore is great, Gore is not a Hall of Famer. This is a sad truth for me, since I think he has done so much with not much around him (although Steven Jackson wears the crown for supporting cast futility). What it will boil down to is: he has never been part of a Super Bowl Championship team, and he doesn't quite have the stats to overcome that. Luckily, the ride's not yet over. I think he plays one or two more seasons, so he may be able to cure his not-quite-itis.
    Dec 29, 2014 at 1:39 PM

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