Frank Gore carried a heavy load for the 49ers offense last season, running for 1,211 yards and eight touchdowns on 282 carries to help the team advance to the NFC Championship Game.
Despite or because of that, the 49ers moved to pick up two new backs during the offseason. They signed Brandon Jacobs as a free agent and drafted LaMichael James in the second round. Kendall Hunter, who ran for 473 yards last year, is also back and it isn’t hard to catch the implication that Gore won’t be subjected to the same load.
That’s not a bad thing. Everyone knows the horror stories about backs on the wrong side of 30, especially if they are expected to be workhorses, and Gore turned 29 in May. A deeper backfield can maximize Gore’s effectiveness by limiting his usage. It could also create a problem if the back in question doesn’t want to share. That doesn’t soun like it is going to be a problem with Gore.
“They’re great dudes. Brandon is big and strong, and LaMichael is very quick and fast. Kendall is a great player. Everybody knows they’re all pretty talented,” Gore said, via Ron Kroichick of the San Francisco Chronicle. “That makes our team better, when you see good players at whatever position. That’s how you know how good your team is getting. I’m cool with it.”
Running back is going to be an interesting spot to watch at 49ers camp. There are a lot of different options for the team to look at, including veteran special teamer Rock Cartwright and Anthony Dixon. Dixon has asked to play fullback in camp in hopes of increasing his chances of sticking on the roster, but Bruce Miller is back after playing 15 games there last season.
However it works out, Gore will still be at the top of the list and that’s fine with him even if it doesn’t mean quite as much as it used to mean.