49ers legend Frank Gore has strong Hall of Fame case, Peter King says


49ers legend Frank Gore has strong Hall of Fame case, Peter King says

Fifteen years and 15,300 career rushing yards later, former 49ers running back Frank Gore has had quite the career.

He moved up to third on the NFL's rushing list in Week 12, passing Barry Sanders in the Buffalo Bills' win over the Denver Broncos. As a 36-year-old, Gore has rushed for 552 yards as a contributor for one of the AFC's biggest surprises. 

Gore's place in 49ers history is unquestioned, but what about in the history of the game? A reader asked NBC Sports' Peter King in his Football Morning In America column about Gore's case for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

King, an at-large member of the Hall of Fame's selection committee, said Gore should one day receive a gold jacket.

"Gore’s a bit of a conundrum," King wrote. "He’s an absolute outlier in NFL history, a guy who ... was never considered the best or second-best back but had a valiant and incredibly productive career after both knees and both shoulders had been reconstructed. 

"The Hall of Fame doesn’t have specific qualifications at any position. But I do think there is a place in the Hall for a player who, from 2006-16, his 11 prime seasons, averaged: 1,132 rushing yards per season, 4.4 yards per rush [and] 15.1 games per year. ... After Gore at three, the next nine backs on the all-time rushing list are either in the Hall of Fame or, in the case of number six Adrian Peterson, a lock to make it. I think Gore has done enough, but it’ll be up to the 48 voters in 2026 or so to decide if they think he has."

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Before Gore gets a call to the Hall, he surely will have his number retired by the 49ers. Since Gore left San Francisco as a free agent after the 2014 season, no player has worn No. 21. 

That's an honor befitting of the 49ers' all-time leading rusher, and a player who was as responsible as any for San Francisco's climb out of perennial mediocrity into the NFL's elite from 2011 through 2013. If you ask King, Gore's résumé is enough for football's ultimate honor, too. 

How much it would cost 49ers to keep Arik Armstead next year on franchise tag


How much it would cost 49ers to keep Arik Armstead next year on franchise tag

The 49ers now have a good idea what it would cost to place the franchise tag on defensive lineman Arik Armstead.

Here’s a hint: It won’t be cheap.

Armstead is enjoying his breakout season along the 49ers’ defensive line. After registering nine sacks in his first four NFL seasons, Armstead this season has compiled a team-leading 10 sacks in 13 games.

The 49ers picked up the fifth-year option a year ago and are paying him $9.046 million this season. But his price tag will rise significantly next season.

Joel Corry, a former NFL player agent and current salary-cap expert for CBSSports.com, projects the franchise tag for defensive ends to be $17.95 million for the 2020 season.

A player qualifies at a specific position based on where he played more snaps. Armstead has played more snaps at defensive end than defensive tackle, according to Pro Football Focus.

As much as the 49ers would like to retain Armstead, they team also wants to save as much cap space as possible to be able to sign such players as DeForest Buckner and George Kittle to multi-year contact extensions in the near future.

Buckner is expected to receive approximately $14 million in salary next season on the fifth-year option. Kittle is in line for a big new contract when his deal is up after the 2020 season.

NFL teams were informed at a league meeting this week that the 2020 salary cap is projected to be from $196.8 million to $201.2 million. Corry came up with his numbers for the franchise and transition tags based on a projection of $200 million for the 2020 salary cap.

In 2020, teams are allowed to use both the franchise and transition tags on players scheduled to be free agents in the spring, Corry explains.

The non-exclusive franchise tag means that another team can sign a tagged player to a contract, but the original team has five days to match the contract terms. If that team does not match, it would receive two first-round draft picks as compensation. The exclusive franchise tag comes at a higher salary and prevents other teams from negotiating with the player.

A transition tag gives the original team only the right to match a contract. There is no compensation for a team that chooses not to match an offer sheet for a player who is tagged as a transition player.

Teams are allowed to name their franchise and transition players beginning Feb. 25 through March 10.


How 49ers trading for Emmanuel Sanders has helped rookie Deebo Samuel

How 49ers trading for Emmanuel Sanders has helped rookie Deebo Samuel

The 49ers' offense has gone to a whole new level since acquiring veteran receiver Emmanuel Sanders from the Broncos for two future draft picks. 

Sanders came to San Francisco on Oct. 22, five days before the 49ers' Week 8 matchup against the Panthers. He caught a touchdown in his team debut, and the 49ers scored 51 points. Not a bad start. 

Since adding Sanders to the offense, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has completed 70.4 percent of his pass attempts for 1,931 yards, 18 passing touchdowns and only five interceptions the last seven games. It's safe to say the QB enjoys having a sure-handed receiver. Sanders has 28 receptions for 407 yards receiving and three touchdowns. 

While Garoppolo and Sanders have found an instant connection, the trade clearly benefitted a 49ers rookie, too. Deebo Samuel has seen his numbers soar in recent weeks. 

Samuel ranks 10th in the NFL in receptions (32) since the trade and ninth in yards (472). He also has scored three touchdowns -- two receiving and one rushing. 

The 49ers' second-round pick from last April's draft is just one of four rookie wideouts to have at least 600 receiving yards. He has 640 on the year, but his only two games with over 100 yards receiving have come after the Sanders trade. 

Coach Kyle Shanahan finally has a trio of receivers he can trust in Sanders, Samuel and second-year pro Kendrick Bourne. With Sanders on board, Samuel now is a dangerous No. 2 who teams sometimes forget about, but have to fear. 

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Despite the 49ers adding Sanders, Samuel has seen his targets go up the last seven weeks. Samuel was averaging 4.4 targets per game before the trade, and now is seeing an average of 6.4 targets per game. 

The rookie receiver surely is taking notes watching the veteran, and the two have formed a duo that opposing teams can't take lightly.