Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports


49ers Legends: Why Canton needs Frank Gore

May 23, 2020 at 11:00 AM6


Over the past couple of weeks, NFL insiders and fans have been engaged in a heated debate about whether former 49er, Frank Gore, belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. While most agree that Gore will eventually be honored in Canton, there are those who believe his enshrinement will be due to his longevity and inflated statistics. These critics will argue that Frank Gore has never been able to establish himself as a dominant running back at any point in his career, and even though he has always been a consistently good running back, he has never been great.


Frank Gore has never led the NFL in rushing, he has only been named to one All-Pro team and has only been a top-five rusher once in 15 seasons.

These are valid and strong arguments against Gore's Hall of Fame claim, it is understandable that those who love the game of football, have a strong desire to see only the greatest players in the world be allowed to enter the hallowed doors of Canton. It is after all, called the Hall of Fame and not the Hall of Good.

However, Canton needs Frank Gore, and here is why.

It would be easy to list his career statistics: Gore is the third all-time leading rusher in NFL history with 15,347 yards, he is also third all-time in rushing attempts (3,548) and total touches (4,016), trailing only NFL legendary running backs Emmitt Smith and Walter Payton. Frank Gore is also 4th all-time in total yards from scrimmage (19,243), behind Smith, Payton and another 49er legend, Jerry Rice.

Frank Gore is also currently 21st all-time with 79 rushing touchdowns, which is more than HoF running backs: Tony Dorsett (77), Earl Campbell (74), Thurman Thomas (65), Larry Csonka (64), Paul Hornung (50), and Otto Graham (44).

These numbers alone would present a strong enough argument for people to understand why Gore should be in the Hall of Fame. However, stats alone can be misleading and fail to tell the whole story of a player's career. Even the most pro-Gore bandwagons would have a difficult time stating that Frank Gore is the third greatest running back in NFL history, as these numbers would indicate.

It is important to look at other aspects of his on-field performances to paint a more detailed and vivid image of his career. Frank Gore currently holds the following NFL records:

  • 15-consecutive seasons with at least 500 yards.
  • 15-consecutive seasons with at least 125 rushing attempts.
  • 12-consecutive seasons with 1,200 yards from scrimmage.

These records display a level of consistency and production over a period that has never been seen in the NFL; especially at running back, where once a player reaches 30 years of age, a drastic decline in performance is expected.

"I can't give a higher recommendation for a guy to be a Hall of Famer than Frank Gore. He's been the absolute model of consistency even at a time when everyone would have expected him to fall off."

It is a tremendous accomplishment for a player who was considered too slow and suffered significant knee injuries during his years at the University of Miami. There were many who doubted if Gore would be able to last in the NFL with his injury history.

However, doubt has been the primary source of motivation that has driven Gore to strive to become the best player he can be.

Hard work and passion for the game have become staples in Frank Gore's career. He approaches each season as if he has something new to prove. His career production numbers provide an insight into this mindset, where consistency has been the key to his success:

  • 4.3 rushing yards per attempt over career.
  • 67.9 rush yards per game over 15 seasons.
  • 6 top-10 single season rushing performances
  • 47 100-yard rushing performances
  • Has played in 226 games.

"Every player in the league is hungry. But most guys are hungry like they missed breakfast, but it's OK because they know lunch is coming. Frank is starving. He plays like he's never going to eat again."

Frank Gore has been the model of professionalism that other players emulate throughout their careers. He has been able to impact the lives of coaches, teammates, and anyone else he crosses paths with, regardless of what team he finds himself on and the role he is asked to fill

"To watch him work and the way that he approached every single day was special for me as a rookie just being like 'This is what it takes to be a stud in the NFL.'"

"He enjoys first, playing, just in general. He loves everything from the time he gets in the building to practice."

Even though Frank Gore never won a single season rushing record, he rushed for a career best 1,695 yards in 2006, which was third overall behind Hall of Famer LaDanian Tomlinson, who rushed for 1,815 yards, and Larry Johnson with 1,789 yards. That single season rushing performance has been the eigth best single-season performance in the past 15 NFL seasons.

For comparison, the NFL leading rushers from 2015-2019 had fewer than Gore's 2006 season:

2019: Derrick Henry (TEN) - 1,540
2018: Ezekiel Elliott (DAL) - 1,434
2017: Kareem Hunt (KC) - 1,327
2016: Ezekiel Elliott (DAL) - 1,631
2015: Adrian Peterson (MIN) - 1,485

Of the seven single-season performances that were better than Gore's 2006 season, Frank Gore was the only rusher who played on a losing team.

One of Gore's most impressive accomplishments is that he was able to thrive during the early parts of his career despite playing on poor performing squads. In his first six seasons, Frank Gore earned 2 Pro Bowl invitations and was named to Second-Team All-Pro in 2006, despite being on a 49ers team that went 37-59 during that span with three different head coaches, five different offensive coordinators, and several different quarterbacks. However, Gore still managed to reach at least 1,000 yards in four of those six seasons.

In total, Gore has been named to five Pro Bowl teams, as well as the Pro Football Hall of Fame NFL's All-Decade team of the 2010s.

Frank Gore told Chris Simms how difficult those early years were on Simms' podcast Unbuttoned, where he confronted Simms over his Hall of Fame claim.

"In my first six years, I had four-and-a-half yards a carry with really nothing. ... I played with so many different quarterbacks. That's hard on a running back. I played eight-, nine-man fronts almost my whole career."
- Frank Gore

Regardless of what Frank Gore has had to face throughout his career, he has always been ready to step up to the challenge with class and a determined attitude that has made him a role model and the personification of what a professional athlete should be.

There will always be people who argue about stats and whether Gore deserves to wear a gold jacket or not, but anyone who cares for and loves this great game of football has to respect the career and legacy of Frank Gore. He does not need Canton to justify his accomplishments, but Canton would be a much better place with a player like Frank Gore among its sacred halls.

One of the missions of the Pro Football Hall of Fame is to promote the game's values: Commitment, Integrity, Courage, Respect, and Excellence. I can't think of a player who exemplifies these values more than Frank Gore.

Hall of Fame coach, John Madden stated, he believed the busts in the Hall of Fame talked to each other once the fans and workers cleared the building.

Frank Gore's bust would definitely have a story to tell.
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.


6 Comments

  • Mike Markovsky
    I agree on Gore being in the HOF. HOWEVER, let's take care of the injustice of Roger Craig being shunned first!
    May 24, 2020 at 8:15 PM
    0
  • Jim Rose
    Yes, and first they need to elect Roger Craig. They haven't yet, because some voters look with tunnel vision at just his total yardage, instead of realizing what a great all-around player he was: blocking, running, receiving, tremendous worker, classy person, multi-Super Bowl winner. Hopefully soon. Come see us in FB at 'Elect Roger Craig to the NFL Hall of Fame'.
    May 24, 2020 at 9:56 AM
    0
  • Brian
    Well written article Adam! Thanks for the treat, Frank is a legend.
    May 23, 2020 at 7:57 PM
    0
  • Joseph Pearlman
    Roger Craig should already be in there. The first of ONLY three "players" to have a 1000 yd rush & 1000 yd rec season as well as one of only two players to have scored 3 td's in a single Superbowl. The other was Jerry Rice (twice).
    May 23, 2020 at 4:34 PM
    0
  • Paul
    I really like Frank. The only 49er jersey I’ve ever owned. I just never thought of him as a Hall of Famer. He just hasn’t been a dominant player at any point in his career that team’s feared. I also don’t think Curtis Martin was HOF worthy. I’ve watched a ton of football since the late 1970s, and can’t think of one signature play by Curtis Martin. Frank Gore is better than Curtis Martin so that is a possible argument, but neither should be in the HOF it just waters it down.
    May 23, 2020 at 12:25 PM
    0
  • 49erEnthusiast
    Good article. Hall of Fame durability and production say he's a HOFer. HOF is subjective all this crap is. What you think. Nobody thinks a like. Still your wrong if you think Gore isn't a HOFer. Lol.
    May 23, 2020 at 11:12 AM
    0

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