The deal is reportedly worth $21 million over three years, with nearly two-thirds ($13.5 million) guaranteed. It’s about a 40 percent increase on an annual basis over the $4.9 million Frank Gore was slated to earn.
Except that a general manager has to wonder. Running backs are the Ni-Cad batteries of the NFL. They run at full speed and then their production tends to drop off steeply.
Consider that over the last five years, only LaDainian Tomlinson, Chris Johnson, Steven Jackson, Maurice Jones-Drew and Thomas Jones ended among the top five in rushing more than once. Gore did just once, in 2006, but perhaps that’s a good thing.
Running backs have the shortest careers in the NFL at less than three years per player. In the same vein, quarterbacks on average have one of the longest (kickers and punters earn that distinction) at 4.4 years. But those who know the game understand that running backs take a lot more punishment than quarterbacks, hence their short careers.
Which brings up an interesting point about Gore’s three-year extension—namely, why? He’s going into his eighth year. He’s coming off a hairline fracture of his hip, and his production in 2010 ended up being the second-lowest of his career.
But the 49ers came through with a three-year extension starting in 2012. Here are five reasons why the Gore deal represents a new era for the San Francisco 49ers.