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."
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.