Gore waffles, chooses Colts

Free agent running back Frank Gore has changed his mind and will sign with the Indianapolis Colts after agreeing to a deal with the Eagles early this week.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - After coming to an apparent agreement with the Philadelphia Eagles this week, Frank Gore changed his mind and will join Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts, the team announced Tuesday.

The free agent running back is reportedly spurning the 49ers for a chance to compete for championship, who have progressed one step further in the playoffs in each of Luck's three seasons. Last year, they fell in the AFC Championship Game to the New England Patriots.

San Francisco offered Gore a one-year, $4 million contract Monday. Gore is getting significantly more by signing with Indianapolis, landing $8.5 million in guaranteed money, according to ESPN.

The Colts are doing their best to assemble a team that can get over the championship hump, reportedly bringing in receiver Andre Johnson, 33, who was teammates with Gore during their college days at Miami. They are also adding former Eagles pass rusher Trent Cole.

The running game struggled for Indianapolis last year after trading for former third-overall pick Trent Richardson. Since joining the Colts via trade from the Cleveland Browns for a first-round pick, Richardson struggled in blue, averaging just 3.1 yards per carry. He did not appear in the playoffs last season.

Gore appears to be a better schematic fit with the Colts than the up-tempo Eagles. Indianapolis runs a similar running scheme to what Gore has been used with the 49ers under coordinator Pep Hamilton, who worked under Jim Harbaugh while at Stanford. Hamilton was also on the 49ers' staff as an offensive assistant in Gore's second season in 2006.

The Colts can also benefit from Gore's elite blocking in pass protection. Throughout his career, Gore has been known as one of the best running backs in the league at picking up blitzes. The Colts threw the ball on more than 62 percent of their plays, ranking sixth in the NFL.

Gore ran for 1,106 yards last year, marking the seventh time in his 10-year career he eclipsed the 1,100-yard mark. But his four touchdowns were his fewest since 2010, when he played in just 11 games. Gore averaged 4.3 yards a carry, while his backup Carlos Hyde averaged 4.0 on 83 carries, scoring four touchdowns.

The five-time pro bowler did everything he could to prove he could play at a high level despite his age. He ran for 158 and 144 yards, respectively, in the 49ers' last two games of 2014, which were his two most prolific games of the season. Gore has appeared in 72 straight games, including the playoffs.

For the 49ers, running back becomes a pressing need this offseason to compliment Hyde. They brought back Kendall Hunter on a one-year extension, who had two season-ending injuries (Achilles, ACL) in the last three seasons. Hunter is the only other running back on the roster that came via the draft. Alfonso Smith and Phillip Tanner both went undrafted and were acquired via free agency.

The 49ers drafted running backs in their last six drafts. This year's class is deep at the position, making it a strong possibility they extend the streak to seven. San Francisco lost three drafted running backs in the last calendar year, including Anthony Dixon (free agency) LaMichael James (released) and Marcus Lattimore (retired).

Among active players, Gore is second in the NFL in rushing yards (11,073) behind Steven Jackson (11,388). He's currently 20th on the league's all-time rushing list.

Next story:

Willis announced his retirement

E-mail Niners Digest: NinersDigest@gmail.com

Follow Editor-in-Chief Chris Biderman on Twitter.

Get updates from Niners Digest by following here and become a subscriber to receive access to premium content and analysis.


Niners Digest Top Stories