Scot McCloughan

Frank Gore: 'Still working my behind off and still loving it' at age 34

gore-frank-smith-alex-handoff-2006.jpg
AP

Frank Gore: 'Still working my behind off and still loving it' at age 34

Running back Frank Gore entered the 2005 NFL Draft with enough question marks to be considered a "reach" when the 49ers selected him with the first pick in the third round.

Physically, Gore had already sustained two ACL tears during his college career at Miami. And NFL doctors had a difficult time signing off on another part of his anatomy, too.

“I took a chance,” former 49ers personnel chief Scot McCloughan said on The 49ers Insider Podcast. “And the majority of the time when you take that chance, you get burned on it because of the medical.

“It’s not just the knees. It was his shoulders, too. I had to almost talk the doctors into passing him. I was like, ‘Come on, guys, work with me here.’ Because I liked him so much as a football player.”

Gore enters Sunday’s game against his former team just three yards behind Eric Dickerson for No. 7 on the NFL’s all-time rushing yardage list.

“I’ve been blessed,” Gore said Wednesday on a conference call with Bay Area reporters.

“When you look back at my career, coming from college, when I got drafted there how many people, even with me getting picked in third round, were calling it a reach? And now I’m still playing and having a little success at this age. I feel real blessed. I’m still working my behind off and still loving it.”

And how is this for durability? Gore, 34, has started 96 consecutive games – the longest active streak among NFL running backs. Next on the list is Atlanta’s Devonta Freeman, who has 25 consecutive starts.

“He’s still rolling,” McCloughan said.

After 10 seasons with the 49ers, Gore’s time came to an end after his 1,106-yard season in 2014. With Jim Harbaugh no longer with the organization, general manager Trent Baalke offered Gore a one-year contract in 2015 as the organization prepared for Carlos Hyde to take over as the featured running back.

Gore admits he was bitter for a year after signing a three-year deal with Indianapolis. But, now, with the passage of time, Gore said he understands the 49ers' rationale.

“They had a young guy,” Gore said. “Trent Baalke drafted him, and that’s who he wanted to play. They wanted to go in a new direction. What could I do?

“I just know when I left I left on good terms. I played great ball for the York family and my fans out there. I left everything on the field.”

Gore is now earning plenty of admirers in Indianapolis, just as he did for a decade with the 49ers.

“I think a bunch of people told him for a long, long time that he can’t and he won’t, and he’s been out to prove everybody wrong,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said.

“He’s one of our top dudes. Just a great, great player, a better person and a great teammate.”

Gore leads the Colts with 191 yards and two touchdowns on 61 carries through four games this season. Although he is averaging just 3.1 yards per rushing attempt, his average is still best among Indianapolis’ running backs.

From the first time McCloughan saw Gore as a true freshman at Miami, he knew there was something special. Although Gore was behind Clinton Portis and Willis McGahee on the depth chart, McCloughan observed Gore’s toughness, strong lower body and ability to keep his pads low.

McCloughan looked past a low Wonderlic score. He knew a learning disability meant that Gore would not test well. But he also knew no written test could properly convey that Gore was a football savant.

“His intelligence, his instincts for the game are lights out,” McCloughan said. “I’ve been around a lot of really good football players. With him, it’s amazing how he picks stuff up so quickly.

“I was like, ‘He’s smarter than Alex (Smith),’ and Alex had a big-time test score. And Alex, of course, is very intelligent, but he (Gore) knew the game, big-time. It was awesome.”

McCloughan had only briefly met Gore at the NFL Scouting Combine, but at that point Gore was off the 49ers’ draft board due to a non-passing medical grade.

The night before the 2005 draft, McCloughan said he was at then-coach Mike Nolan’s house. He received a call from an agent who told him Gore wished to speak with him.

“I can barely understand him, he’s talking so fast,” McCloughan said. “He’s nervous.”

Gore told McCloughan that he’s heard from other teams that he could be a first- or second-round draft pick.

“I said, ‘I’ll be honest with you, Frank,” McCloughan said. “I’m always honest with all the players and coaches. I said, ‘If you’re there – we had the first pick in the third round – I’m going to take you. I can’t take you prior to that because of the medical issues.’ He said, ‘I’m not going to last that long.’ And I said, ‘Well, I don’t know. If you do, I’ll take you.’

“Since that day, we’ve been best friends. He said, ‘I respect you and I trust you.’ You get Frank’s trust, -- a lot of players – you get their trust, you got them. You got them, and they’ll do everything for you, and I’ll do everything for them.”

All-time NFL leading rushers
1, Emmitt Smith 18,355 (1990-2004)
2, Walter Payton 16,726 (1975-1987)
3, Barry Sanders 15,269 (1989-1998)
4, Curtis Martin 14,101 (1995-2005)
5, LaDainian Tomlinson 13,684 (2001-2011)
6, Jerome Bettis 13,662 (1993-2005)
7, Eric Dickerson 13,259 (1983-1993)
8, Frank Gore 13,256 (2005-current)
9, Tony Dorsett 12,739 (1977-1988)
10, Jim Brown 12,312 (1957-1965)

Scot McCloughan discusses Smith over Rodgers, 49ers QB situation

smith-alex-jersey-2005-draft.jpg
AP

Scot McCloughan discusses Smith over Rodgers, 49ers QB situation

When coach Mike Nolan and personnel chief Scot McCloughan inherited a two-win team more than a decade ago, their first act together was to draft a player they envisioned as the 49ers’ quarterback of the future.

The 49ers under Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch took a different approach this offseason. They determined it was best to bring in a bridge quarterback, improve the roster at other positions and push back their hunt for their franchise signal-caller until the second year.

That’s how the 49ers ended up with Alex Smith in 2005 and Brian Hoyer in 2017.

McCloughan, this week’s guest on The 49ers Insider Podcast, spoke about Alex Smith’s steady and consistent rise to being a standout NFL starter and the decision long ago to select him with the No. 1 overall pick – 23 spots ahead of Aaron Rodgers.

“It was partly my fault, if I could’ve traded back two or three spots, which I was trying to do, but no one would come up, I would’ve taken Aaron at three or four, hands down,” McCloughan said.

Instead, Rodgers was still available when it was the Green Bay Packers’ turn to select at No. 24. Green Bay general manager Ted Thompson called McCloughan, who previously worked with Thompson in the personnel departments of the Packers and Seattle Seahawks.

“They’re on the clock,” McCloughan said. “And he’s like, ‘What’s going on here?’ And I was like, ‘Ted, the guy is a really good football player.’ He said, ‘What do you think?’ I told him, ‘If I were in your spot, I’d take him at three or four, and they’re sitting at where they were.”

McCloughan selected Smith with the belief he was not a quick-fix answer. Shortly after drafting Smith, who had yet to turn 21, McCloughan stated that Smith would not begin to hit his peak until his seventh NFL season.

Sure enough, Smith’s seventh season in the NFL was in 2011 – two seasons after McCloughan was no longer with the 49ers. After never having the same coordinator or offensive system in full back-to-back seasons, Smith started to find continuity in 2011, and his career has flourished.

In 25 starts with Alex Smith under Jim Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman, the 49ers went 19-5-1. After Harbaugh benched Smith following a concussion in 2012, the 49ers traded him to the Kansas City Chiefs to clear the way for Colin Kaepernick.

“The plan was with (then-49ers offensive coordinator Mike) McCarthy and with coach Nolan, the first year, we were going to sit him,” McCloughan said. “Of course, we weren’t going the right way, and guys were getting hurt and he ended up playing solid his rookie year.

“I always knew with him he’d fight through adversity, which he did. I’m so proud of him. First of all, he’s a great person. Second of all, he’s a really good quarterback and he’s having the success he deserves.”

Smith’s career has taken off since Andy Reid and then-Kansas City general manager John Dorsey acquired Smith in a trade from the 49ers. In Smith’s 65 starts with the Chiefs, the team is 45-20. Kansas City (4-0) is currently the only unbeaten team remaining in the NFL this season.

McCloughan knows Reid and Dorsey very well, and they called him to get his assessment of Smith before making the deal with the 49ers before the 2013 season, McCloughan said.

“You can’t miss on this guy from the standpoint, he shows up every day and he’ll be the same guy every guy,” McCloughan said. “He’s A-class character, and he’s got talent. Now, if you want him to throw it 35, 40 times a game, he might not be your guy. But he’s going to get everybody lined up, get them in and out of the huddle, and they’re going to respect him from a leadership standpoint (and) a toughness standpoint.”

Meanwhile, the 49ers’ new regime decided to postpone their quest for a long-term answer at quarterback until next offseason – when there are likely to be better options available on the veteran and rookie markets.

Of the 32 quarterbacks who have attempted 90 or more passes through Week 4, only rookie Deshone Kizer (50.9) and Joe Flacco (65.0) have lower passer ratings than Hoyer (67.9).

McCloughan said Hoyer is the kind of quarterback who has the ability to manage a game and give his team an opportunity to win against most teams. But Hoyer is not likely to ever carry a team to victory.

“The thing with Hoyer, he reminds me of Colt McCoy,” McCloughan said. “He’s not a front-line guy, but he’s played a lot of football and is intelligent. If the guys around him are good enough, you’re going to win more than you lose because of what they say about Alex. He’s a game manager.”

Shanahan said on Monday he is sticking with Hoyer as the 49ers’ starter ahead of rookie backup C.J. Beathard. McCloughan said has a high opinion of Beathard as a player who can ultimately develop into a starter down the road.

“I liked him a lot,” McCloughan said of Beathard. “He’s one of those guys, kind of like Matt Hasselbeck. Right away, he wasn’t a starter. It took a couple of years.”

Hasselbeck was a sixth-round draft pick of the Packers in 1998 who did not become a starter until 2001 with Seattle.

“They’re just intelligent guys,” McCloughan said. “It’s so important at that position, don’t make mistakes. It’s not bad to punt. You have third and 8, and everything is covered, don’t force it. I think that’s the way Hoyer is for sure, and I think Beathard has really good upside.”

Washington fires former 49ers GM McCloughan after two seasons

Washington fires former 49ers GM McCloughan after two seasons

Washington has fired General Manager Scot McCloughan. 

The termination of McCloughan, who was hired in January of 2015, was reported by the Washington Post. The team issued a statement from team president Bruce Allen that was quoted in the article, confirming that McCloughan had indeed been relieved of his duties. 

“Washington has released Scot McCloughan from the organization effective immediately. We wish him success in his future endeavors. The team will have no further comment on his departure. The organization remains confident in our personnel department as we execute our free agency plans as well as prepare for the upcoming NFL Draft.” 

READ MORE AT CSNMid-Atlantic.com