Frank Gore

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

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AP

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. 

Jim Harbaugh, NFL legends congratulate ex-49er Frank Gore on milestone

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Jim Harbaugh, NFL legends congratulate ex-49er Frank Gore on milestone

Frank Gore hasn't played for the 49ers since 2014, but the running back forever will be a franchise legend. Fans of the red and gold hold Gore in high esteem, as does his former coach. 

Jim Harbaugh, who now coaches at the University of Michigan, has a close bond with Gore that didn't stop when both of their tenures in the Bay Area ended five years ago. The former 49ers head coach was quick to congratulate Gore on Sunday for passing Hall of Famer Barry Sanders to move into third place on the NFL's all-time rushing list. 

Gore, 36, rushed for 65 yards on 15 carries in the Bills' 20-3 win over the Broncos. He earned the game ball after the victory, deservedly so. 

"I know I speak for everyone in here, Frank, when I say what an honor it is to watch you work every single day," Bills coach Sean McDermott said in the locker room after the game. 

The five-time Pro Bowler expressed his gratitude towards Bills fans after the win, which improved the surprise Buffalo squad to 8-3 on the year. 

Former NFL legends like Sanders, Bills Hall of Fame running back Thurman Thomas and many others congratulated Gore as well. 

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"Hey Frank, this is Barry, man," Sanders said in a video tweeted by the Bills. "Congratulations on becoming the No. 3 all-time rusher in the NFL. Keep up the great work." 

Gore, who spent his first 10 NFL seasons with the 49ers, now has 15,289 career rushing yards, 20 more than Sanders' 15,269. Only Walter Payton (16,726) and Emmitt Smith (18,355) sit ahead of Gore in the NFL record books.

49ers legend Frank Gore passes Barry Sanders in third on NFL rushing list

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49ers legend Frank Gore passes Barry Sanders in third on NFL rushing list

Frank Gore passed Barry Sanders on Sunday to move into third place on the NFL’s all-time rushing list.

Gore, in his first season with the Buffalo Bills, began the day 45 yards behind Sanders, who rushed for 15,269 yards in his 10-year career (1989-1998) with the Detroit Lions. 

With 9:29 remaining in the fourth quarter Sunday against the Denver Broncos, Gore surpassed Sanders with a 7-yard gain over left guard. Gore finished Sunday with 65 rushing yards, moving 20 clear of Sanders. 

Gore, now 36, spent his first 10 NFL seasons with the 49ers. During that time, he rushed for a team-record 11,073 yards with eight 1,000-yard seasons. He was selected to five Pro Bowls with the 49ers.

NFL ALL-TIME LEADING RUSHERS
1. Emmitt Smith 18,355
2. Walter Payton 16,726
3. Frank Gore 15,289
4. Barry Sanders 15,269
5. Curtis Martin 14,101