During the preseason it is common practice to limit the amount of carries a team’s star running back takes in the four games before the regular season. If a head coach decides to play their star running back it usually for a series or two before the replacements come in to lessen the possibility of the RB getting hurt for the upcoming season. 49ers running back Frank Gore was in uniform during Saturday’s horrible loss to the Texans but he did not play because coach Jim Harbaugh told him early in the week he would not play. Read into that has you may as Gore is seeking a contract extension as his deal with the 49ers runs out after this season. Gore had brief holdout at the start of training camp before returning to his humble ways and rejoining the team. The humbleness is still there in Gore but it now has a majority mixture of discontent as he still does not have a contract extension with two weeks before the season starts.
It is unclear whether or not Gore will play in the preseason final against the Chargers on Thursday. Gore’s agent held talks with the 49ers front office on Monday but no news of an agreement came out so it appears the two sides are still far apart. Even though Gore is frustrated he has said if no new contract is not reached he will not demand a trade or holdout again.
“Like I said if it doesn’t happen, I will be here for my teammates. I have my days (when things are difficult), but once I hit the field it’s all about football”, he said.
I love Gore and everything he has done for the 49ers since 2006. Gore has been the only consistent player on offense for the 49ers and at times the only thing we could cheer for was when he touched the football. With Gore being the workhorse of the offense for five straight seasons his body is starting to break down at 28-years old, something which is the fault of the 49ers front office for not brining in adequate backups, and previous coaching regimes for not resting Gore when he needed it. Both the 49ers and Gore know he is starting to breakdown which is why the front office has not signed the RB to a contract extension and why Gore is seeking a multiyear, money guaranteed deal. Gore is the most deserving of any Niner to receive a contract extension but the reality of the situation is Gore is approaching 30 which is the typical shelf-life of running backs in the NFL. The 49ers cannot extend a deal to Gore that has a lot of money guaranteed which is why the contract must be incentive based. I think this is why talks have stalled because Gore and his agent will want to get as much money guaranteed with less of the money coming from incentives. 49ers GM Trent Baalke is hopefully balking at the guaranteed money.
The 49ers and Gore both need each other. Gore needs the 49ers because he knows the best deal he will get before the season ends is with the 49ers. Gore is coming off of a hip injury and even though I think is capable of rushing for over 1,000 yards this season, if he decides to sign with another team next year it will be for less money as Gore adds another year of being a workhorse running back. The 49ers are being cautious with signing Gore to an extension because they know the end of his shelf-life is approaching. The 49ers do not want to be stuck with a deal years from now that has Gore as a high-paid running back who is a second-stringer or hurt.
Contract negotiations is a delicate balance with Gore. The 49ers want to re-sign him at their terms, but they also don’t want to alienate Gore entering the season. The 49ers have promising backups in Anthony Dixon and Kendall Hunter but neither look ready to assume the duties of being the every down running back. I want Gore to remain and retire as a Niner but the deal has to be heavy on the incentives and less on the guaranteed money. Gore’s agent may not like those terms but it is the only way to give Gore a new contract that does not handicap the 49ers in future years.