Gore Record Shining Light in Dark Season

The San Francisco 49ers franchise has racked up plenty of milestones over the years -- inventors of the shotgun formation and the West Coast Offense, first team to win five Super Bowls, only team to play multiple Super Bowls and win them all. But they've never had a running back rack up four 1,000-yard seasons in a row -- until Frank Gore did just that in Sunday's 20-6 win over the Detroit Lions.

Gore's 71 yards and one touchdown put him at 1,013 yards for the season, with Sunday's contest against the St. Louis Rams still to come. And the Rams have the league's sixth-worst rushing defense

The milestone is nothing new for Gore. He also set the franchise mark last year, when he became the first 49ers running back to run for 1,000 yards for three consecutive seasons.  Now he's made it a fourth.

It's astonishing that for all their division titles, playoff wins, and championships,  the 49ers have never had a back with so many consecutive 1,000-yard seasons until Gore. Those teams in the 80's and 90's won a ton of games and a number of Super Bowls alright -- but they did it with a constantly rotating cast of backs like Roger Craig, Ricky Watters, and, during really desparate moments, Lawrence Phillips.

None of those teams ever had a solid year-in, year-out workhorse back like Gore. You can bet that the franchise would have a few more Lombardi trophies and Hall of Fame inductions if they had.

It surely means more to Gore that this may be the team's first non-losing season since he's been a 49er. With a win over the Rams, the Niners will finish the season at 8-8  "Since I've been here, the best record was 7-9," Gore told the San Francisco Chronicle. "My boys know we had a good chance to go to the playoffs."

Gore is still, however, a few thousand yards shy of the all-time franchise rushing record. With 5,454 career rushing yards, Gore remains more than 3,000 yards behind Joe "The Jet" Perry, a 49ers running back who put up 8,689 yards between 1948 and 1960.

Perry was actually the first NFL running back ever to post consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, in 1953 and 1954.

Joe Kukura is a freelance writer whose boys know that his Fantasy team featuring Frank Gore would have surely gone to the playoffs if not for the Raiders inexplicably beating Pittsburgh in Week 13.

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