The 49ers’ all-time leading rusher is now in his third season with the Indianapolis Colts.
But running back Frank Gore has never left the 49ers completely behind. On Sunday nights last season, Gore would often call then-running backs coach Tom Rathman to rant about his former team while the 49ers were in the midst of a two-win season.
On Wednesday, Gore demonstrated his continued passion for the 49ers during a conference call with Bay Area reporters. After answering questions for more than 10 minutes, Gore had his own question:
What do y’all think about the 49ers?
Then, Gore proceeded to give his opinion of where the 49ers are heading after the firings of one-and-done head coaches Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly, as well as the removal of general manager Trent Baalke.
The 49ers, under coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch, are 0-4 as they enter Week 5 with a game against Gore and the Colts on Sunday. Gore said he sees reason for optimism.
“I think they’re going in the right direction,” Gore said. “They really play tough, man. I like their coaching staff. I like what he’s doing on offense. And that defense, they play very hard, and they’re playing good ball.
“The safety. . . (No.) 29 (Jaquiski Tartt), I see, he’s around the ball a lot. E-Reid (Eric Reid) was playing good ball before he got hurt. He was looking like his first year when he played with us.
“I like their D-line. I think they’re going to be all right. I think (49ers CEO) Jed (York) did a great job of picking the guys he picked to run the team. I think they’re going to be OK.
“In the NFC West, you know how it is. It goes in cycles. I don’t think Seattle is how they used to be. . . Arizona . . . The Rams got a lot better. And San Fran, and that young team, I think they got a bunch of good pieces. I think (quarterback Brian) Hoyer is playing good ball, at times. But I think once they get all that situation, I think, man, they’re going to be back where we were, making a run for the NFC West.”
When told that Gore sounded like a fan, he did not disagree. He said he wishes success for his former team.
“I’d been there 10 years,” Gore said. “That’s what I bleed. I was bitter that first year, but that’s the business. That’s the business. I did right for that organization. I played hard. What can they say but great things about me? I want to see them do great.”
Gore said the 49ers’ narrow loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII still motivates him. Gore rushed for 110 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries in the Super Bowl. After his 33-yard run gave the 49ers a first-and-goal from the Baltimore 7, Gore never touched the ball again.
“It was real close. I think we were 4 or 5 yards away,” Gore said. “Because of what we had going on as one of the top teams in the league, you feel you’d go back. It never happened.”
Left tackle Joe Staley and linebacker NaVorro Bowman are the only starters off that Super Bowl team that remain with the 49ers. Center Daniel Kilgore and tight end Garrett Celek were backups.