In 10 seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, running back Frank Gore has been one of the best in the business.  The Miami graduate has strung together 11,073 rushing yards and 64 rushing touchdowns on eight 1,000+ yard seasons.  In 2014, Gore put up 1,106 yards and 4 scores while averaging 4.3 yards per carry.  The numbers don’t lie for Gore, he’s been a reliable force for his entire career.  And now the 49ers might not want him back. 

As last season progressed, it was becoming more evident that Carlos Hyde was lead back ready and San Francisco knows what they have in the Ohio State product.  Working in a reserve role, Hyde accumulated 333 yards and 3 touchdowns.  He resembles Gore in a lot of ways; most evidently that he’s a punishing and elusive back.  Hyde is 24 while Gore is 31.  If the production is there from the younger, cheaper guy, it makes sense why San Fran would want to turn in another direction.  Father Time waits for no one and the hour glass appears to have emptied for Frank Gore in the Golden City.

Enter the Indianapolis Colts.  Coming off of an AFC Championship Game appearance, the Colts appear poised to take the next step up the ladder toward the Promised Land.  Defense was an obvious glaring weakness, but in a mostly prolific offense, the clear weak link was the running game.  Not to mention, it’s cloudy which running backs will return to Indy next season as it stands:

  • The writing is on the wall for former 3rd-overall pick Trent Richardson.  He’s done with the Colts.  His play on the field was atrocious and he’s been surrounded with controversy the last few weeks.  He missed the team’s practice the morning of the AFC Championship (a week after being listed 3rd on the depth chart) and has reportedly gained 15 pounds since joining the team.  The Richardson trade has been a disaster and it’s quite clear that General Manager Ryan Grigson and the rest of the Colts front office are finally willing to admit defeat and move on.
  • Boom Herron is a restricted free agent and although it’s hard to imagine a scenario where he isn’t brought back, who will complement him in the backfield?
  • Ahmad Bradshaw has been plagued with injuries for the majority of his career and although he put up impressive numbers while he was healthy this past season, he is 28-year old unrestricted free agent with a recent marijuana citation (he did plead not guilty to this charge today).
  • A member of the 2012 rookie class who seemed to have a promising future in Indianapolis, Vick Ballard, has missed almost two straight seasons with significant injuries.  While I expect he’ll get a crack at a roster spot in training camp, it’s hard to count on much from him until proven otherwise.
  • Last but not least, Zurlon Tipton.  The Central Michigan product fought his way onto the practice squad and later the active roster as an undrafted rookie this season, but he’s just that.  An undrafted rookie who did just enough to stick around.

If you didn’t feel like reading the bullet points, no hard feelings.  I get it.  To summarize, the Colts NEED running back help and they need it in a bad way.

Earlier today, a report was released by Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller that Frank Gore is not expected to return to San Francisco.  Within the report, Miller also says that Gore’s most likely landing spot is Indianapolis:

"From everyone I've talked to around the league, and this includes multiple people in these cities and a couple of people in San Francisco, they feel like the Indianapolis Colts are probably the shoo-in to get Frank Gore," Miller said.  "When it was thought that Rob Chudzinski, ‘maybe he's going to come to San Francisco to be the offensive coordinator,' they thought Frank Gore would come back.  Now that Chudzinski is staying in Indianapolis, there's a need there, and it's the only situation really where Gore can come in and be the number one running back and still be a starter.  So I think the Colts are the team most likely for him."

If the “Gore to Colts” narrative sounds a bit familiar, that’s because it is.  Matt Barrow of the Sacramento Bee had his version of Gore’s future in January:

"One player who will be intently watching the weekend's Colts-Broncos game? Running back Frank Gore. His top choice is to remain with the 49ers. But he's also curious about playing with Andrew Luck and wonders whether a quality tailback is the missing element in Indianapolis' offense."

Gore clearly had his doubts about his return as well.  If that quote from Barrow is not enough, how about his Instagram post (now deleted) from yesterday that read, "I know the fans love me but I need to know if the management does.”  After today’s report that he won’t be brought back, will he turn to Indianapolis for a new home?

My guess is… yeah, probably.  All of these signs point to one thing for me, and that’s a new starting running back for the 2015 Indianapolis Colts.  He definitely is not a spring chicken, but I think he has enough left in the tank for a successful year or so in The Circle City.  And what if he really is the missing piece for Andrew Luck’s offense? If the price tag and contract is team-friendly enough, I think this is one of the easier decisions that Grigson has to make this year.  Bring Gore to Indianapolis.  I’m on board.


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