The 49ers have brought in rookie Carlos Hyde from Ohio State, have Marcus Lattimore ready to show what he can do after a year of rehabilitation, and can hand the ball off to Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James, a pair of quick, slashing runners.
The San Francisco corps of running backs in 2014 will be deep and talented.
But despite the obvious skills of Hyde, Lattimore, Hunter and James, Frank Gore remains the team’s No. 1 running back.
And, it seems, he has no thoughts about stepping aside or slowing down, even though he turned 31 in May, an age when most running backs hit a wall and begin to show the wear and tear of all the hits they’ve taken.
Gore, however, is different than most running backs, and a profile of Gore and his intense workout regimen, published this week by Ryan Maquinana on NFL.com, goes a long way toward explaining how Gore seemingly hasn’t been affected by age.
At age 30 in 2013, Gore rushed for 1,128 yards and nine touchdowns and again showed he was one of the best-blocking running backs in the NFL. It was his third straight season of more than 1,100 yards rushing and his sixth 1,000-yard season in his last seven.
Recently, Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com noted that Gore was selected the 46th best player in the league in the NFL Network’s annual ranking of the top 100 players.
“It’s amazing to think that Frank Gore’s durability was a big question for him coming out of college,” Rosenthal wrote. “The last of a dying breed at running back, Gore is still going strong at age 31 for the 49ers. He deserves to be No. 46 overall because he does every aspect of his job well. If I had to choose one running back to get three yards to save my life, (Gore) is the pick.”
So how does Gore do it? How does he remain durable, strong and effective? Maquinana’s story provides the answers.
Gore works out harder than most of his peers, and uses naysayers as motivation. This offseason he works out regularly in a high-altitude simulation dome, doing sit-ups to “the point of exhaustion” and lifting weights. His system is to have no system, he told Maquinana. He doesn’t do a set number of reps in his workouts. He goes until he can’t anymore.
“I’m done when I’m done,” Gore said, adding that he wants no “limits on what I can do to be in tip-top shape.”
In addition, Gore is in his third offseason of working out regularly at the Undisputed Boxing Gym in San Carlos. He can throw punches for 30 consecutive minutes without rest, an exhausting routine that would leave most other men on the mat.
“When I see a guy on the football field huffing and puffing, I know I got an advantage over him,” Gore told Maquinana. “Since I started boxing, between plays (on the football field), I’m standing straight up.”
Gore’s teammates rave about his fitness, leadership, work ethic and intelligence. In fact, even though he’s 31, many can’t imagine him slowing down.
“You know what, I think he’s got five more good years in him,” Lattimore told Maquinana. “He still can do it all, from what I’ve seen.”