SANTA CLARA, Calif. - It could not have been easy for Frank Gore to leave the 49ers after his 10-year run put him in the pantheon of the franchise's most beloved players.
But Gore did leave in free agency, signing a three year, $12 million deal to join Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts, after spurning the Philadelphia Eagles who had an agreement in place with Gore on the eve of the new league year last week.
Gore, 31, issued a statement through the 49ers public relations department Monday, thanking those who helped make his 10 years with San Francisco what they were.
“As I look forward to an exciting new opportunity, I cannot help but to reminisce about the past 10 years in the Bay Area," Gore wrote. "I would like to, once again, thank the York family and the 49ers organization for giving me the opportunity to realize my childhood dream of playing in the NFL. I am truly thankful to all of my 49ers teammates, coaches and staff that have helped me reach milestones and strive for greatness over the years. And to my fans: I do not know where to start, there are no words to describe how appreciative I am of the support and encouragement each and every one of you has provided. I will always carry you with me. Thank you for everything.”
Gore became the 49ers' all-time leading rusher after getting drafted in the third round of the 2005 draft, averaging 4.5 yards per carry throughout his tenure. He came into the league with a slew of knee injuries out of the University of Miami, but still managed eight 1,000-yard seasons as a pro. Late last year he eclipsed the 11,000-rushing yards mark, passing Warrick Dunn for the 20th spot on the NFL's all-time rushing list.
Gore left San Francisco as a fringe Hall of Fame candidate and could boost his resume with a productive year or two with Indianapolis. The Colts have gone one round further in the playoffs in each of Luck's three seasons, falling last year in the AFC Championship game to the New England Patriots, who beat the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl.
If the Colts continue their trend, they would make it to next year's Super Bowl, which will be played in Levi's Stadium. That would be the ultimate homecoming for Gore, who is not scheduled to play against the 49ers in 2015.