When you think of current NFL elite running backs what names come to mind? Adrian Peterson, Arian Foster, Marshawn Lynch, LeSean McCoy, Maurice Jones-Drew and perhaps even Ray Rice. All of those are solid choices when naming elite NFL running backs, but there is one player who is hardly ever included on this list that should be: San Francisco 49ers' running back Frank Gore.
Now before everyone gets in a tizzy and starts naming players who I left off the list that they would consider elite and how they are all better than Frank Gore, let's just take a look at Gore's numbers over his career.
In seven NFL seasons (and one game so far in 2012) Gore has rushed for 7,737 yards with 44 TDs and a 4.6 yards per carry (YPC). Gore has amassed that amount of yardage and has done so without reaching 1,000 yards in two separate seasons. In 2005, Gore's rookie year, he rushed for 608 yards while starting just one game and in 2010 Gore ran for 853 yards, but only played in 11 games due to a hip injury. If it weren't for the lack of attempts in both seasons, I'm convinced Gore would have easily eclipsed 1,000 yards in those two seasons as well.
Now that you've seen the numbers let's compare his numbers to the other elite running backs mentioned above.
Adrian Peterson obviously bests everyone on the list as he is on another level. Despite his elite status, I still believe he sits above the rest of the group in his own category. However, Gore fits right in with Arian Foster, LeSean McCoy, Marshawn Lynch, and Maurice Jones-Drew in terms of his yardage and YPC -- but perhaps not his touchdown tally.
Regardless, Gore combines the strength of a running back that thrives between the tackles with the speed of one who can bounce the run outside at any time. And it is because of that and his ability to lead the 49ers' ground game that he should be considered among the NFL's elite. Especially considering the 49ers' impressive 2011 campaign and strong Week 1 showing against the Green Bay Packers -- Gore ran for 121 yards and a touchdown in that game.
I'm afraid Frank Gore will continue to be the black sheep of the NFL's elite running back group and so long as he continues to produce, showcase his skills, and help the 49ers reach Super Bowl XLVII, I will be okay with that.
Food for thought: Is Frank Gore an elite running back? Where would you rank him among current NFL running backs?
David is co-founder of wrapupp sports blog where fresh content is posted daily and present sports blogs and sports opinions -- all with a West Coast bias. Growing up in the Bay Area, David is a huge supporter of all the local sports teams; the Giants, Athletics, Warriors, Sharks, 49ers, and Raiders. His one fault, admittedly, as many of his friends and family would say, is his love for the Los Angeles Lakers. Growing up, Magic Johnson was his favorite basketball player and he fell in love with the team. He chalks it up to, "Not knowing any better". Now his love for sports has turned just as academic as it is intuitive and he follows most all sports all over the nation.
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Pro-Football-Reference. Frank Gore Stats. NFL 2012.
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