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Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Hall of Fame Case for Frank Gore

Stewart M. Cockrell
Dec 23, 2016 at 8:57 AM

Since there is not really much good to say about the 2016 49ers outside of the promising play of Deforest Buckner and the prospect of Trent Baalke finally doing enough (or lack thereof) to get fired. I'd like to spend a moment to make the case for a former 49er favorite and current Indianapolis Colt Frank Gore for the Hall of Fame.

Frank Gore, entered the league in 2005 as a backup with not much promise as an oft-injured third-round pick out of Miami. In his first season, he backed up Kevin Barlow and amassed 608 yards rushing in 14 games. His coming out year was 2006 though, where he rushed for 1,695 yards and 8 touchdowns. This began a streak of four straight seasons where Gore played at least 14 games and rushed for over 1,000 yards. His 2010 season was cut short with a hip injury but he still put up 853 yards in 11 games. Frank Gore then strung together another four straight years of at least 1,100 yards rushing while not missing a single game. Age and salary cap caused Gore to move onto the Indianapolis Colts for the 2015 and 2016 seasons and has a realistic shot to finish the 2016 season with over 1,000 yards. In doing so, Gore would have eclipsed that mark nine times in his 12-year career.

Gore, who is 33 years old while playing for the 7-7 Colts this season and has passed some big names on the all-time rushing list in the process during the 2016 season. In fact, Gore currently sits 8th on the all-time rushing leaders list in NFL history with 12,931 yards. Gore also sits only 328 yards behind the great Eric Dickerson for 7th all time. While it would take something ridiculous happening for him to get that many yards in the last two games of the season, even if Gore were to hang up his cleats after the season he would be in the rare company in NFL history of running backs.

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Consider this; every runner ahead of Gore currently is in the Hall of Fame outside of LaDainian Tomlinson. There are few that argue that Tomlinson will not get his call in 2017 when the yellow jackets are announced prior to Super Bowl 51. Crazier still is that if the season ended today, Gore sits only 754 yards behind Tomlinson for 5th all-time in rushing yards. The only other active running back in Gore's neighborhood is Adrian Peterson who sits at 16th and is 1,184 yards behind Gore. Few will doubt that Peterson will likely catch and pass Gore due to being younger, even if that happens Gore would finish his career solidly in the top ten rushers of all time.

Gore to this point has scored a respectable 74 (24th all-time) touchdowns in his career compared to a whopping 164 for the all-time leader Emmitt Smith and 145 for the aforementioned Tomlinson. However, Gore has accumulated more rushing touchdowns than current Hall of Famers Thurman Thomas (65) and O.J. Simpson (61). On top of being a sturdy runner, Gore has been valuable as a receiver as well piling up an additional 3,401 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns. These yards when combined with his rushing totals gives Gore a current All-Purpose yard total of 16,347 yards which is top 20 of all time and only 185 All-Purpose yards behind Thurman Thomas.

Let's assume Gore plays the 2017 season either for the Colts or for a team looking for a veteran third-down back. While in a limited role it would be hard to imagine Gore matching his 72.6 yards per game career average, we can imagine he averages 50 yards rushing and 25 yards receiving a game for the 2017 season. That would put Gore as the 5th leading rusher of all time and 17th all-time in all-purpose yards. By scoring 6 more touchdowns on top of his current 90 would put him at top 25 in touchdowns all time as well.

The knock on Gore will likely be that he never was an MVP and is far down on the list of all-time rushing touchdowns. There is little doubt that Frank Gore was one (if not the) of the best players on the San Francisco 49ers for his entire career with the team. He currently holds all significant rushing records with the team by a large margin and likely will not be challenged in that aspect for a long time if ever. Likely it will come down to how the Hall of Fame values longevity over awards. Based on statistics alone, Gore seems to have the resume to receive a call from Canton and there is little doubt that he will someday have his name enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.

1 Comment

  • Tom
    I always liked Frank and was happy to have him as a 49er for so long. But, his numbers and longevity aside, I have never viewed his as a back that significantly altered the position in any way, or was a back who could really be considered as dominant , which seems to me to be the criteria by which that position should be judged. I have no issue with him being voted in if that happens but I would also have no issue with him not making it.
    Dec 24, 2016 at 2:40 PM

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