3 free agents 49ers can still sign to help 2021 playoff push

Olivier Vernon #54 of the Cleveland Browns (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
Olivier Vernon #54 of the Cleveland Browns (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) /
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Frank Gore, New York Jets
New York Jets running back Frank Gore (21) Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /

49ers free-agent target No. 1: Running back Frank Gore

Perhaps this is a bit of sentiment, and perhaps it’s a bit of “doing the right thing” by letting future Hall of Fame running back Frank Gore finish out his career with the team that drafted him way back in 2005 and subsequently turned him into the franchise’s leading rusher of all time.

Gore even said he’d consider a return under certain circumstances, and a shot at a Super Bowl would be one of them.

It wouldn’t be a bad way to go out.

True, the 38-year-old Gore who last played with the New York Jets in 2020 wouldn’t be a key offensive contributor, at least not with San Francisco getting quality production on the ground out of running back Elijah Mitchell and wide receiver Deebo Samuel. But the running back depth behind Mitchell is questionable at best, with Jeff Wilson Jr. only recently returning from a serious offseason injury and Trey Sermon out with an ankle injury.

Gore wouldn’t have to take a serious workload, although he could potentially alleviate the need to rely too much on Samuel’s efforts.

More importantly, though, Gore’s experience and leadership would provide a necessary element the 49ers could benefit from during a playoff run, and that’s where adding him would pay off handsomely.

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