The San Francisco 49ers loaded up on offensive weapons during the offseason, trading for wide receiver Stevie Johnson and drafting running back Carlos Hyde out of Ohio State. They also have running back Marcus Lattimore returning from an ACL injury, which kept him out all of his rookie season.
The running back position in particular has become especially crowded and someone is going to have to take the third wheel spot, and there is some early talk that it might wind up being Frank Gore.
From John Clayton of ESPN:
The early word out of San Francisco is that Frank Gore might get 50 fewer carries this year. He had 276 last year. The debate is which back can claim a good portion of those opportunities as the backup. Jim Harbaugh drafted Marcus Lattimore and gave him last season to recover from a devastating knee surgery in college. The 49ers couldn’t resist using a second-round pick on Carlos Hyde this year when he fell to them. The Hyde-Lattimore battle may be under the radar, but the winner could tip off what the future looks like in the backfield. Gore is 31 and in the final year of his contract.
It is somewhat surprising considering Gore has rushed for over 1,000 yards in seven of his nine career NFL seasons. The two years he didn’t both came on shortened seasons. 50 carries is a huge drop off from the 276 carries he had in 2013.
Gore carried the ball an average of 4.1 yards on each carry so his production doesn’t seem particularly poor, but he is getting older and expecting a drop off in production is just natural.