Here is an early link to my Thursday column about Frank Gore. The full text runs below:
In the next few days, you’re going to read what Frank Gore deserves.
Mostly you’ll read Gore deserves to stay with the 49ers. Gore is a free agent and it would be — choose among the following: ungrateful, spiteful, cheap, mean, criminal -— for the 49ers NOT to offer him a big fat contract.
Why does Gore deserve a big fat contract, probably around $4 million?
Choose among the following: Gore deserves a big fat contact because:
He is a nice guy, a warrior, one of the best running backs in 49ers’ history, he tries hard, he plays hurt, he’s a great teammate, he’s a leader in the locker room, he’s never been in trouble with the law, he wants the ball, he never backs down, he got along with Jim Harbaugh, he will get along with Jim Tomsula, he’s pals with Trent Baalke, Jed York never had an unkind word to tweet about him, he’s the first player in the building in the morning and the last one to leave at night, he used to be one hell of a running back.
Used to be. That’s the operative phrase.
When you read about Gore, you will read sportswriters getting all emotional about Gore, going all gooey on you, shedding a tear or two.
Frank deserves special treatment, they will write. Frank deserves. He just deserves.
He deserves what he deserves because he played on some bad Niners teams and then he played on some very good Niners teams, and he even played in a Super Bowl but he never won the big championship. You are supposed to feel sad for him. You are supposed to think his life lacks meaning because he never won a Super Bowl. You are supposed to believe the Niners should re-sign him to give him a shot at the big one, although the Niners themselves hardly have a shot in the upcoming season. You are supposed to think he deserves.
You are supposed to be sentimental. Please, don’t be sentimental.
Think like a football executive. Baalke is a football executive.
A football executive would tell himself Gore earned a ton of money with the 49ers. Gore is a very rich man. Gore drives a nice car. Gore lives well. Gore earned respect. Gore may have a future in scouting players — he’s something of a savant in that area. Gore smiles a lot. Gore seems to enjoy life. Gore is set for life.
Hardly the stuff of tragedy.
A football executive will remind himself of the Bill Walsh philosophy. Walsh was a pretty good executive in addition to being a pretty good coach. His philosophy was simple and brutal. It always is better to trade or release a player too soon rather than too late. You release or trade a player if he’s about to decline, release or trade him if he gives the lightest whiff of declining. Just get rid of him.
No room for sentiment in football. No crying by football executives.
With Gore we’re not talking about a guy who’s on the cusp of declining. He passed the cusp years ago. He is declining. Period.
Is he still a good back? Sure. He is good early in games when he’s fresh. He is good early in the season when he’s fresh. He is good if you have another good back who can spell him. He is good if he shares the running duties. He can’t be the No.1 back, the durable back, the focus of the offense. That era is over.
There was another part to Walsh’s get-rid-of-the-guy philosophy. Teams pay old players too much. Teams pay old players based on what they did, but never will do again. Teams pay old players based on their former worth not their current worth.
In the World According to Bill, Frank Gore is not worth $4 million. In Bill’s world the Niners need to move on. Need to let Gore sign elsewhere, sign with a team which will pay for past greatness.
Gore no longer fits the 49ers’ offensive style. The Niners indicated Colin Kaepernick will run more. The offense will be a Colincentric offense consisting of more read options — that trickery between the quarterback and the running back. Hey, defense, guess who has the ball?
Carlos Hyde is good at that style. Gore is not. Gore is a traditional I-Formation runner. Give Frank the ball and look at him run. In the new Niners’ offense Gore will feel frustrated and won’t be a big deal.
Which means the 49ers already are moving away from Gore. They should move away entirely and let him go. After he retires, they can hold a Frank Gore Day at Levi’s Stadium. I, for one, would be honored to attend.
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