Frank Gore doesn’t have anything left to prove, but don’t tell him that. After he surpassed 1,000 yards rushing for the sixth time, he mentioned the doubters.
“When you see everybody say when you turn 29, 30, you can’t do it anymore. When I got to 29 I told myself I was going to overcome that. It’s all about training in the off-season. Being smart during the week, that’s something Tom Rathman does a great job with me.”
Gore turned 30 a month ago, which brings a whole new round of questions, questions that drive him. In fact, it’s hard to determine what doesn’t drive him. Gore doesn’t have a chip on his shoulder, he has a family-size bag of chips jabbing into both shoulders. It doesn’t make him angry, at least outwardly. Gore just smiles, because he knows he needs the motivation. What exactly drives him these days?
— Turning 30:
“I like it. I like it. I like it. You know what? I feel like every year it’s something. I’ve got to overcome everything, every year. Coming off the hip injury, would I be able to be the same. I’m turning 29, would I be able to be Frank Gore. And now 30, I’m just going to keep working and training hard. Whenever Ferg (Jeff Ferguson, Director of Football Operations and Sports Medicine) lets me be on the field, I’ll just go hard and prove everybody wrong again.”
— His spot on the NFL Network’s top 100 players list and the accompanying analysis of his future:
“At the end they said, ‘He’s turning 30, he may not have much more left.’ I like that type of stuff,” said Gore, who didn’t sound all that enthused about getting ranked No. 32. “It’s cool. I don’t care. I’m happy my peers recognize me and see what I do. Just to be on the list is great.”
— The five running backs drafted ahead of him, who he listed in five seconds.
“Um … Ronnie Brown, Cedric Benson, Cadillac, J.J. Arrington and Eric Shelton.”
Carolina Panthers fans don’t even remember Shelton, but Gore does. He remembers them all, he had a better career than each of them, and he’s still going strong. Gore said that another 49ers RB should do the exact same thing with his respective draft class.
“That’s what I told Marcus Lattimore. That’s a thing I kept in my head. If you ever get the opportunity to be the man, you always compete with the guys who went in front of you. That was one of my goals when I was the sixth back picked. And he was the sixth back picked in his draft. I told him, whenever I’m done, remember that.”
There were actually eight running backs drafted ahead of Lattimore, but the point still stands.
Why does someone who’s rich, successful and beloved by fans need to feel slighted all the time, by so many different things? To keep putting his body through the grind year after year, that’s why. Gore plays a position that according to some has almost become disposable. In contrast to that notion, Gore is one of the most indispensable members of the team. And as such, when he isn’t on the field for OTAs or this minicamp, people wonder if he’s okay. Gore told everyone not to worry.
Here’s the transcript of the health part of his interview, starting with my Pulitzer-worthy opening question:
BASG: How are you feeling, Frank?
Gore: I feel good. I’m happy. Out here all offseason. Getting better with the team and getting ready for training camp.
Q: Frank, what’s the offseason been like for you, getting so close in February and returning back to work?
Gore: It was tough at the beginning, but once I got back working out and stuff, I kind of got better with it. Like I said, I’m happy to be back. When I got back, seeing all the guys working, we’ll try to get back to where we left off last year.
Q: What’s kept you off the field?
Gore: You know, I’m just listening to Ferg. He told me he doesn’t want me doing anything right now, and I’m good.
Q: Did you have an injury?
Gore: I’m cool.
Q: You’re healthy?
Gore: I be good.
Q: You’re fine, you’ll be full go for training camp?
Gore: If Ferg says I can go out there, I’m going to be there. But I feel good, I’m good. That’s it.
Q: Did you have any procedure, anything done during the offseason?
Gore: Just getting my body back. I want to be fresh whenever I get back on the field.
Q: You got kind of beat up during the year.
Gore: Did I?
Q: Yeah. You didn’t show it, but we saw it.
Gore: Yeah? What I do in the offense, Kap kind of freed me up a lot. I’ll be fine this year.
One last thing that motivates Gore isn’t an individual thing. After the Super Bowl, Gore said, “I just feel like we [were] the better team. They got away with one today. We showed we were the better team.” It’s probably safe to assume Gore wants badly to prove the 49ers are the best team this year. Just like he felt like he felt the need to prove he was a better back than Ronnie Brown, Cedric Benson, Cadillac Williams, J.J. Arrington and Eric Shelton.