San Francisco 49ers: 5 Reasons the Frank Gore Extension Was Worth It

Ted JohnsonAnalyst ISeptember 3, 2011

San Francisco 49ers: 5 Reasons the Frank Gore Extension Was Worth It

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    Matt Maiocco of Comcast Sports Bay Area broke out some interesting details about Frank Gore’s new contract extension that was signed last week.

    Maiocco contends that the deal presents very little risk to the San Francisco 49ers.

    The deal runs through 2014 and is slated to give Gore $21 million from 2012 through 2014. Of that, $13.5 million is guaranteed.

    But the contract includes some telling details. The former University of Miami star, who is going into his seventh year, has to achieve some tough performance standards—such as 1,600 rushing yards in each of the last three seasons—to earn the full benefit of the contract.

    In other words, much of what Gore ends up with depends on how well he does. In any case, this is a deal that will guarantee his retiring as a 49er. It also secures his inexorable quest to become the team’s all-time leading rusher, which he could achieve with more than 930 yards to surpass Joe Perry.

    And that’s just the start. Here are five reasons why Gore’s contract was worth it.

Throwback

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    “Frank doesn’t say much in the locker room,” Chilo Rachal said during an interview on the last day of training camp. “He keeps to himself.”

    For a team that has won 41 percent of its games in Gore's pro career, and has not appeared in the playoffs, it seems normal for a star of his stature on a struggling team to voice discontent. Just look around and consider some contrasting examples in similar situations:

    • Carson Palmer doesn’t like the way the Bengals run their organization, so he demands a trade or will retire (though he hasn’t filed his papers with the league yet).
    • Terrell Owens always finds a way to point out the negative, from lack of passes intended for him to the character of his quarterback.
    • Off-field run-ins with the law (too many to mention).

    Gore wanted more money, and got it—to an extent. To get all of it, he’ll have to reach peak-career numbers. It doesn’t seem to bother him. The message that sends to the rest of the team is: Good performance on the field will bring all the rewards one needs. It’s just a matter of playing well.

Versatility

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    The 2011 preseason brought a nice surprise to 49er fans. The addition of fourth-round pick Kendall Hunter gives the 49ers a little more scoot in the backfield. Small, shifty and deceivingly fast, Hunter is in stark contrast to the other backup, Anthony Dixon, the 233-pound second-year man out of Mississippi State.

    There’s the elusive Hunter and then there’s the powerful Dixon. And yet Gore, who is 5’9” and a rippling 217 pounds, has a little bit of both in him. That’s important. He’s been the team’s third-best receiver over the last four years, and yet he’s one of the toughest inside runners in the game. Past the line of scrimmage he has moves and speed, which turns every break-free venture into a chance to score.

    On top of that, he sets the standard for picking up linebackers on blitzes. Gore will get the majority of the playing time. But Dixon and Hunter will also spell him in spots where their individual skills will have greater chance for success.

    So, when you see Dixon finish off a long TD drive with a 1-yard plunge, or when you see Hunter fake out a linebacker on a swing pass out of the backfield, remember that earlier there was Gore, doing a little of both—and maybe more—to set up his teammates.

Quiet Determination

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    He shows up, takes his hits and gets the ball in the end zone.

    He overcame two major knee surgeries in college and has set himself up as one of the best all-around backs in the NFL for his generation.

    But there is no doubt he doesn’t get the attention of, say, Steven Jackson of the Rams, or Reggie Bush of the Dolphins or Chris Johnson of the Titans. Not that he should; after all, the 49ers have been less than a premier team. The glory goes to the victors.

    It does make one wonder about the vagaries of an NFL career. If Gore was on either the Colts or Patriots, for example, where he’d be a regular in key national games and scoring in playoff and Super Bowl games, the radio talking heads would be taking orders for his bust in Canton by now.

    But Gore doesn’t say anything about that. Maybe that’s his motivation, the quiet but powerful motor that drives him toward high performance.

Private

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    Few businesses lack the professional standards than that of sports agents. Oh, you can hear about above-board practices and what agents have to do to maintain their right to negotiate before the NFL, but it’s a dog-eat-dog world.

    No one knows that better than Drew Rosenhaus, Gore’s agent. Rosenhaus, like Gore, attended the University of Miami. His clients include Plaxico Burress, Terrell Owens, Jeremy Shockey, Kellen Winslow Jr. and, well, you get the idea. These are not low-profile players on or off the field.

    Maiocco’s story added a telling back story to the Gore extension deal. Rosenhaus represents 49ers safety Dashon Goldson. He was a free agent. The 49ers, according to Maiocco, reportedly offered Goldson a five-year, $25 million deal. Rosenhaus-Goldson turned it down, thinking that something better was waiting through free agency.

    Goldson returned last month to the Niners for a one-year, $2 million deal—needless to say, much less. Not the kind of deal that adds to an agent’s reputation.

    That’s one reason why Gore’s deal is structured to prevent the Niners getting hurt financially should Gore not be able to play through the end of his contract. More to the point, though, it seems that Rosenhaus did the deal to make sure Gore had a contract, even if it was one that wasn’t all that beneficial.

    It’s hard to imagine Terrell Owens, in the same situation, keeping quiet about how a contract got worked out. But there’s Gore, strapping on his chin strap, quietly.

Leader

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    You hear it all the time: Respect. Some players earn it on the field; others try to earn it via their vocal chords.

    Last week, coach Jim Harbaugh practically wrote a pitch for a Hollywood movie about the Frank Gore story. Brave, strong, responsible, unbending—that’s Gore. A third-round pick with bad knees, who just might end up in the Hall of Fame. He’ll certainly end up in the 49ers Hall of Fame.

    Yet there was a time when he might have been the best college football player in the country. At Miami there was little doubt—if he remained injury free—that he would have set standards for performance (Heisman) and perhaps draft-day dollars.

    It didn’t work out that way. But we don’t hear Gore complaining. We just hear the grunts from defensive linemen as they shake off another punishing hit from perhaps the most under-appreciated back in the NFL.

    Ted Johnson is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand.