It was always a matter of when, not if.
Frank Gore, the man who donned the red and gold for a decade, will retire, as he always wanted, as a 49er. That is according to the Mercury News’ Cam Inman, who reported Wednesday night that Gore would have a ceremonial signing before retiring Thursday.
Gore had said earlier in the offseason that he planned to retire and sign with the 49ers, and the moments to come on Thursday will cement that.
Gore might be the only player to tear both ACLs and get better. He was selected by the 49ers with the 65th overall pick in the third round out of the U(niversity of Miami) after tearing ACLs in either knee in college.
What followed was a Hall of Fame career.
In his 16 seasons (regular season only), 10 of which were spent with the 49ers, Gore rushed for exactly 16,000 yards, which ranks third all time, behind only Emmitt Smith and Walter Payton. He averaged 4.28 yards per carry in his career, more than Smith (4.16 yards per carry) and less than Payton (4.36 yards per carry).
Gore, the 49ers’ all-time leading rusher with 11,073 yards for the franchise, made five Pro Bowls and was a member of the Hall of Fame’s All-2010s team. His 81 rushing touchdowns are tied for 19th-most all time.
His imprint with the 49ers extends far beyond his on-field achievements. His leadership, passion and intensity for the game was the stuff of legend.
Gore’s longtime partner on offense and close friend Joe Staley said that Gore would be so emotional on the field in practices that he’d sometimes cry. Staley said — upon his own retirement — that when he entered the league, he was in awe of and inspired by Gore.
“Frank was a guy that I watched,” Staley said. “I was a huge sports fan growing up, and he was a guy that I watched and not idolized, but he was a superstar. So I came in the NFL, and he had just got done rushing for 1,600 yards, and he was a guy that was the leader of the team and he was a San Francisco 49er.
“To watch him work and the way that he approached every single day was special for me as a rookie just being like ‘This is what it takes to be a stud in the NFL.'”
Gore’s legacy will be as one of the prime examples of what the 49ers want their identity to be in terms of toughness, passion and joy for the sport.