Chris Simms

49ers legend Frank Gore confronts Chris Simms over Hall of Fame case

49ers legend Frank Gore confronts Chris Simms over Hall of Fame case

Former 49ers running back Frank Gore had heard former NFL quarterback turned analyst Chris Simms had been "on the fence" about whether the five-time Pro Bowl running back was Hall of Fame-worthy or not.

He got his chance to clear the air in a recent interview during the week leading up to Super Bowl LIV. That, of course, was after some mean-mugging from Gore.

Simms began the interview saying, "Frank Gore is mad at me," in which the 10-year veteran disagreed. But Simms did admit he had once said he was unsure if Gore was a Hall of Famer or not.

That's one way to start an interview.

"As a running back, the more help you got, the easier it is," Gore told Simms during an episode of "Unbuttoned."

"Not that my guys didn't work hard, you know, I'm big on teams, and I respect them guys who I play with, but name a guy -- my first six years who you would be afraid of outside of ... "

"Game planning-wise," Simms interjected.

"Yeah," Gore said. "You know what I'm saying?"

He then gave some examples such as Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who had Antonio Brown, LeVeon Bell and JuJu Smith-Schuster to lean on.

Gore had a lot of quarterbacks over the years. In 2005, his rookie season, he alone had four quarterbacks who had over three starts each. 

Simms mentioned he wasn't sure he could confidently put him in the HOF class because of the fact Gore wasn't a top three or five running back consistently each season.

Gore averaged 4.3 yards per attempt across 10 seasons and averaged 1,282.9 total yards per season

"I'm not going to lie, I'm not the flashiest guy, but I got the job done," Gore said. 

Simms agreed and appreciated the real conversation.

But the doubting simply motivated Gore, a player who Bills quarterback Josh Allen called the "greatest human being alive." And one who gave 49ers running back Raheem Mostert encouragement despite a heart-wrenching Super Bowl loss to the Chiefs. 

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Gore, a free agent, hopes to head into his 16th season in the NFL. And while his numbers have slowly dwindled, he hasn't. He shows no signs of slowing down and it appears he will keep going until he's in Canton. 

And yes, Simms ultimately admitted Gore indeed is a Hall of Famer. 

What went wrong on 49ers' crucial late incompletion to George Kittle

What went wrong on 49ers' crucial late incompletion to George Kittle

Deebo Samuel had a quiet fourth quarter in Super Bowl LIV.

The 49ers' rookie receiver ran for 53 yards on three carries and caught five passes for 39 yards in the first three quarters of San Francisco's 31-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. He had no touches in the fourth quarter, even though 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo targeted Samuel three times. 

With the 49ers up 20-17 and just over five minutes remaining in regulation, Samuel appeared to open for a screen pass on a second-and-5 play when Garoppolo threw to George Kittle. Garoppolo's intended pass was blocked at the line by Chiefs defensive lineman Chris Jones.

The play proved to be a turning point. Garoppolo's next pass fell incomplete, too, and the 49ers punted, setting up the Chiefs' game-winning touchdown drive en route to their first Super Bowl win in a half-century. 

In hindsight, would Garoppolo want that second-down pass back? NBC Sports analyst Chris Simms broke the play down on Twitter, arguing that Garoppolo was right to target Kittle rather than Samuel, who essentially was being used as a decoy on the play.

"This is a great gameplan-designed play," Simms said. " ... They're faking the bubble screen. George Kittle's faking, kind of like he's coming off looking to block somebody. He's wide open. Wide open. I mean, it doesn't get any more wide open than this in the NFL. It's a slam-dunk completion. Shanahan dialed it up perfect."

The 49ers even managed to neutralize Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones as best they could, according to Simms. Despite the 49ers' strong pass protection, Jones still got a hand on Garoppolo's pass, leaving the 49ers no recourse other than to shrug the play off and move on.

"They blocked Chris Jones really [well] and, you know, sometimes players just make plays," Simms continued. "Look at his eyes -- yeah, he's blocked really well. He realizes he's not gonna get [to Garoppolo] right away, and then he's going, 'OK, let me find the quarterback so I can maybe get some hands up.' And he does a great job of getting both hands on that (pass), maybe saving the game for the Chiefs."

Kittle was open again on the ensuing third down, according to Simms, but Garoppolo wasn't looking in his tight end's direction. 

Simms, who played with 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan at the University of Texas, did not fault his former teammate's play-calling down the stretch. He noted that Samuel's three carries accounted for a large amount of the 49ers' rushing production (nearly 40 percent), which he felt made questions about San Francisco's lack of second-half runs moot. 

[RELATED: How recent history won't help 49ers' Super Bowl return]

After the rookie accounted for nearly 100 rushing and receiving yards in the first three quarters, it's fair to wonder why Samuel didn't get more touches with the game on the line. The 49ers did use Samuel to open up Kittle at an important moment, as Simms noted. 

But with the game on the line, they simply didn't execute. 

49ers vs. Vikings: Chris Simms gives X's and O's preview of playoff game

49ers vs. Vikings: Chris Simms gives X's and O's preview of playoff game

Saturday's NFC Divisional Playoff Game between the top-seeded 49ers and No. 6-seeded Minnesota Vikings will feature two mesmerizing in-game chess matches.

The matchup between 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan's inventive offense and Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer's disciplined defense will take center stage. But the undercard bout between Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski and Robert Saleh's fast-flowing 49ers defense might be the battle that decides who moves onto the NFC Championship Game.

NBC Sports' Chris Simms took a look at what each offense does well and what's the best way to throw a wrench into their plan. The Vikings run a lot of different actions out of their bunch formation. As seen in their wild-card win over the New Orleans Saints, the Vikings like to run outside zone out of the bunch formation.

The Vikings also can run toss sweep and inside zone in that package, which Simms suggests they use to attack a 49ers defense that is one of the fastest in the NFL. Stefanski also likes to use play-action out of the same package, roll quarterback Kirk Cousins out and hit defenses with the bootleg to either side once they are thinking about the litany of run options the Vikings can use in that action.

As for Shanahan vs. Zimmer, Simms notes that Shanahan has a lot of tricks in his bag. One of those is the "Oh s--t" play where the 49ers lull defenses into believing they are seeing one thing only to hit them with something else. Zimmer's defense will have to be sound and stick to their assignments in order to avoid letting up a big play Saturday at Levi's Stadium. 

[RELATED: How much will Kwon play vs. Vikes?]

Which team will be able to stop the other's bread and butter? Who will be able to make plays after being punched in the mouth?

Saturday's showdown between the 49ers and Vikings promises to have all the fixings.