49ers: Could Frank Gore play one final season in San Francisco?

49ers (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
49ers (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

San Francisco 49ers’ legend Frank Gore plans to play another season in 2020. Could the veteran running back play one more year in the Bay Area?

Frank Gore is the most prolific rusher in San Francisco 49ers history and surefire Ring of Honor and Hall of Fame member upon his retirement. However, that retirement will be delayed for at least another season.

It was reported last week that Gore has no plans to retire and is prepared to play his 16th NFL season in 2020. Gore will turn 37-years-old in May and assuming he plays a game next season, he will tie Raiders great Marcus Allen as the oldest running back to play in an NFL game.

Last season, Gore finished with 599 yards and two touchdowns while sporting a modest 3.6 yards per carry. Not amazing numbers, but it’s truly remarkable at his age. More so, his level of consistency over the years is nothing short of phenomenal.

Gore has played fewer than 14 games just once in his career when he missed five games all the way back in 2011. In eight of his last nine seasons, Gore hasn’t missed a single game. For a running back, that’s downright unheard of.

Not to mention that the Miami product finished with a stellar 4.6 yards per carry average just two years ago with the Dolphins. Gore still has some left in the tank and he should have no trouble finding an NFL team before training camp.

But could that team be the 49ers? Could we be in store for a homecoming for the ages?

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Gore spent 10 seasons playing with the 49ers from 2005-2014. Over that time, the former third-round pick established himself as arguably the greatest running back in team history with over 11,000 rushing yards in his 49ers career.

And given that he will once again be a free agent this offseason, why wouldn’t the 49ers want to bring him home to San Francisco? It seems like a perfect storybook ending to an illustrious career, but there are plenty of reasons why it might not make sense.

At the moment, the 49ers have Tevin Coleman, Raheem Mostert, Matt Breida, Jerick McKinnon, and Jeff Wilson on the roster. However, their running back depth chart could look very different next year.

Breida is a restricted free agent and while he is likely to return the same can’t be said for a couple of other tailbacks on the team. Both Coleman and McKinnon are possible to cut candidates given the 49ers’ tight cap situation.

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It’s unlikely that all five players return next year and Coleman might be the most likely casualty. However, the team is likely content rolling with Mostert and Breida as their top options while McKinnon — provided he’s finally healthy — serves as the primary pass-catching back.

That would leave Frank Gore without a role.

On top of this, Gore doesn’t exactly fit the 49ers’ scheme. Head coach Kyle Shanahan has developed a beautiful offensive scheme that produces an excellent ground game with average running backs and interior offensive linemen.

He’s done so by emphasizing speed and athleticism among his linemen and backs alike. Gore was never a burner to begin with, and that’s certainly true at this stage of his career.

The 49ers aren’t going to be running sweeps and outside zone runs with Gore. He’s a power-runner and is best fit in an offense that could make use of his strengths.

The only chance Gore would have of returning to San Francisco would be if the team signed him intending for him to be their short-yardage, goal-line back. But in all likelihood, this doesn’t seem like a move the 49ers would make.

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While it would be amazing to see Frank Gore finish his career where it all started, 49ers fans shouldn’t hold their breath on a reunion any time soon.