When the 49ers wrapped up their mandatory three-day minicamp Thursday, there was plenty of praise passed around.
Head coach Jim Harbaugh told reporters he was happy with the progress made by quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the team’s young receivers, rookies and veterans returning from injury.
However, one player who didn’t take part in the on-field drills this week will be an important factor for the 49ers in 2013. Running back Frank Gore has been held out of organized team activities (OTAs) and the mini-camp. According to Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee, Gore’s relegation to observer is at the advice of Niners’ head trainer Jeff Ferguson.
Gore, after all, has 8,839 yards on his tires over eight NFL seasons, and there’s no reason at this stage of his career to add any more wear and tear on a proven performer.
Once training camp starts in July, Gore will get his chance to work his way back into form in time for the season opener against Green Bay while allowing plenty of carries for the stable of younger backs – LaMichael James, Kendall Hunter, Anthony Dixon, B.J. Daniels and Jewel Hampton – to show what they can do.
Gore, after all, just turned 30 in May – the magic age when even elite NFL backs seem to hit a wall. After two consecutive seasons of 1,200-plus rushing yards and six 1,000-yard seasons with the 49ers, Gore wants to be fresh and ready for the season to begin in September so he can prove the skeptics wrong once again.
“I feel like every year it’s something with me, that I’ve had to overcome something every year,” he told Barrows.
Coming out of the University of Miami, he wasn’t taken until the third round because injuries in college cast doubts on his future. Over the past few seasons, smaller injuries and his age have been thrown in his face as sure signs he’s about to head downhill. Yet each season Gore has been the picture of consistency.
Gore now ranks No. 3 among all active NFL running backs in career rushing yardage behind Steven Jackson (10,135) and Adrian Peterson (8,849).
The Niners may now be in good position for the future after drafting Marcus Lattimore this year and James and Hunter over the past two seasons, but Gore isn’t planning on going anywhere soon.
He may be 30, but he’s using that age as a motivating tool.
“Now that I’m 30, I just have to keep working and training hard,” he told the Associated Press Thursday. He also pointed to a recent list that ranked him No. 32 among the top 100 players in the league.
“They said he’s turning 30 and he might not have (any) more left,” Gore said. “I like that type of stuff. Whenever (the 49ers) let me get on the field, I’m going to go hard and prove everybody wrong again.”