It will be Frank Gore who steps forward on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers, the 37-year old running back likely to start in Week 2. Those around the league who watch him see a player who looks just like he did as a rookie 16 years ago.
Gore will feature at running back for the Jets in place of Le’Veon Bell, who was placed on Injured Reserve (IR) on Tuesday with a hamstring injury. He suffered the injury in the Jets Week 1 loss at the Buffalo Bills.
Gore led the Jets in rushing against the Bills, with six carries for 24 yards. He spent the first 10 years of his NFL career with the 49ers, paving the pathway for a career where he is now the NFL’s third all-time leading rusher.
At the start of his coaching career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, now 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan remembers being impressed with the then rookie Gore
“I love Frank Gore. I think he’s one of the best running backs to ever play. I think he’s one of the more underrated running backs to ever play,” Shanahan said in his press conference on Wednesday with the 49ers local media.
“His longevity and his numbers now have finally given him a little bit more attention that is past due. From his rookie year to watching him at Miami. My first year in the league, I think, was 2003 and I remember watching him [in] quality control in Tampa, just coming out of Miami just studying him. I loved him then, I loved him every year.”
Signed this offseason as cover for Bell, the 16-year NFL veteran will have a featured role in the Jets backfield the next three weeks.
This week, Gore talked about his feelings and emotions of getting the starting nod after Bell was placed on IR. He said that nothing will change in his preparation. What matters most to Gore is winning and getting the Jets back after a disastrous Week 1 for the offense.
But in terms of any special emotions in getting the starting nod, Gore was unattached from any poignant feelings.
“I want to win, especially us coming off a loss last week. I want us to look a lot better that last week as an offensive team, as a team and that can be doing whatever it takes to win,” Gore said.
“It can be the 49ers, it can be Seattle. I just want a win.”
Gore is known for his meticulous study and preparation as well as taking care of his body. Several weeks ago, Bell noted that Gore is the first one in the team’s practice facility on a daily basis.
It is that attention to detail and work ethic that has kept him in the league so long.
“He runs so hard,” Shanahan said. “The guys that run that hard very rarely can play to his age, which just shows how dedicated he is, how much of a football player he is and obviously extremely talented, but he’s a special dude.”