Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
It was just last year that the 49ers entered the season as front-runners for the NFC West. Rotating quarterbacks and a November injury to star running back Frank Gore derailed that possibility in a big way, and the Niners front office seems to be all right with that.
They sat through the lockout with no quarterback at all under contract and were expected to make a play for a veteran to support second-round draft pick Colin Kaepernick. That “veteran” turned out to be their own Alex Smith, who has had a very mediocre five years with the 49ers. The only season he started all 16 games, he threw as many interceptions as touchdown passes (16).
If they’re unwilling to go out of their way to fix their passing game, one could assume they’d be focusing on their ground game. Instead, they’ve let their only offensive threat stage a holdout, and GM Trent Baalke has voiced a willingness to start the season without the Pro Bowler:
I think you always have to be prepared for everything that comes up. So are we prepared to (play without him)? Certainly.
Gore is in the final season of his contract and is scheduled to earn just $2.9 million plus a $2 million roster bonus. With other top-rated running backs such as Darren McFadden and Steven Jackson making nearly double that on teams that value their services but don’t quite depend on them, one can understand Gore’s perspective.
Plus, unlike disgruntled superstar Chris Johnson across the country, for 28-year-old Gore it seems to be more about an extension than a big payday.
Baalke would do well to entertain Gore’s request and give his offense a fighting chance.
Or he can do like he’s done all offseason and sit back and watch Gore join teammates Manny Lawson, Nate Clements, Aubrayo Franklin and Takeo Spikes on some more appreciative team once he, too, hits free agency next year.