Earlier this week, Niners GM Trent Baalke said he wants to make Frank Gore “a 49er for life.”
So, what’s the holdup?
On one side, Gore – the team’s proven “bell cow” running back – wants to remain a 49er. After a short holdout, the 28-year-old reported to camp earlier this month seemingly happy and eager to get going after an injury-shortened 2010 season. He’s a proven impact back, having rushed for 1,000 yards or more four times in his six years in the league.
On the other side, Baalke and the team must decide whether to give Gore – in the final year of his contract -- a new deal to not only keep him happy, but keep him long-term as a major component of coach Jim Harbaugh’s new West Coast offense.
“The best thing we can say,” Baalke said on SiriusXM NFL Radio, “is we’re doing everything we can to make Frank a 49er for life and whether that gets accomplished in the near future or not remains to be seen. But Frank’s a 49er. He’s a heck of a football player, he’s a heck of a young man and he’s a leader. You can’t say enough good things about Frank.”
Yet over the past couple of weeks, Gore’s camp and Baalke’s camp haven’t been able to reach a deal.
ESPN now reports, however, that Gore and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, will meet with the 49ers Monday. Reports are that Rosenhaus is seeking a deal similar to that signed by the Carolina Panthers’ DeAngelo Williams (five years, $43 million). Whether the 49ers are willing to go that far is uncertain. The Sporting News reports contract discussions between the two sides have been “volatile.”
As Bay Area News Group columnist Tim Kawakami noted, Gore’s best chance to get a good deal is probably now, rather than playing out his contract this season and hoping to cash in as a free-agent after 2011.
Gore wants to stay, and the Niners need him to be a leader and a key to what they hope will be a revitalized offense. Without him, this team has a big hole.
Could Gore walk out of camp, and hold the team hostage? As Kawakami says, probably not.
“He’s probably too loyal to his teammates for that,” he writes. “But he has to be thinking about it.”