To get a sense of how much Frank Gore means to the San Francisco 49ers, all one must do is pop on the tape of the franchise rushing king's 23-yard touchdown against the Green Bay Packers.
Lined up in the backfield as part of the team's seven-linemen personnel package, Gore followed fullback Bruce Miller and pulling left guard Mike Iupati's kick-out blocks around the right edge to score San Francisco's first rushing score of 2012.
But there was more to it.
Gore was first hit at the 4-yard line by Packers safety Morgan Burnett. The hit, however, didn't derail Gore from reaching the end zone. Instead, Gore spun off the body blow to his right, staying in bounds long enough to backpedal into the end zone, where he was blasted backwards at the goal line by Green Bay cornerback Tramon Williams.
On its own, the play spoke to the many impressive traits that have made Gore one of the NFL's best running backs in his eight playing seasons.
Gore's linemen mobbed him in the end zone, too. Daniel Kilgore and Jonathan Goodwin, first on the scene, lifted the 5-foot-9, 217-pound runner off the ground and into their arms. At that point, all of San Francisco's offensive linemen reached Gore to give him a lift.
"It was a really good job of on that particular play Kilgore and Leonard Davis sealing off the edge," offensive coordinator Greg Roman recalled. "Bruce Miller came around with Mike Iupati did a great job of sealing. Bruce Miller did a great job. He forced (Charles) Woodson to basically hurdle him, which freed up Frank and then Frank just made a guy miss and spun into the end zone. Wasn't perfect, but it was a great run. A lot of good things happened on it. We loved the end result."
In turn, Gore loved the play call, its design and the coordinator utilizing all of his personnel, not just the starters.
"I like our coaching staff, they do a great job of getting us in the right positions," said Gore, who picked up 112 yards on 16 carries against Green Bay. "Coach G-Ro, he's probably the best I've been around as a coordinator.
"G-Ro, I'd put him at No. 1 so far… He makes it fun."
Teammates certainly appreciate the diverse play-calling from the team's second-year coordinator, but they also value everything Gore brings to the table.
Exceptional vision, quick footwork, patience through running lanes and a relentless running approach make Gore one of the best backs around.
Third-year running back Anthony Dixon considered Gore's 23-yard score as one of the best he's seen from San Francisco's all-time leading rusher.
"With what we were trying to accomplish out there, yes it was," Dixon said. "That was one of my favorite runs I've seen from him. He didn't go out of bounds – he toughed it out, took a hit – and got back up."
Gore, himself, doesn't really like to categorize his running ability, nor does he compare it to others.
Some inside the 49ers locker room look at his power around the edge to be Walter Payton-like. Some look at his vision and cut-back ability to be Barry Sanders-like. Others look at his all-around ability, power mixed with speed, to be Emmitt Smith reincarnated.
Gore admits to watching plenty of tape of Sanders, the Hall of Fame running back of Gore's Week 2 opponent, the Detroit Lions.
"Barry was sweet," said Gore, who's totaled 125.3 yards per game in four outings against the Lions.
Even so, Gore's 23-yard run wasn't Sanders-like in his opinion.
"Barry Sanders' runs were totally different than that," Gore explained. "He'd have three-four guys in front of him in the backfield, he'd stop and go. That's different."
Still, Gore concedes their vision is similar; only, Gore has more patience in his game.
"I think that's what helps me out a lot, my feet, to get in and out of cuts. I can get in between small holes."
Roman said Gore's one of the most unique players he's been around. Adding the terms, "throwback" and "old school" to Gore's laundry list of positive attributes.
"We could go anywhere chalk up a football field," Roman began, "pads, no pads however you want to play it lets go. Frank's going to play. He's going to compete. He's unbelievably tough, passionate, competitive. He's got incredible will to win that he wears on his sleeve. There's only one Frank Gore.
"His running style is very unique. I can't say that I have quite seen anybody like him with his size, weight and then what you see on the field is just so unique. He's got so much quickness, power and just short area vision. He's got one of the strongest wills to succeed that you'll find. So I think that's the best I can do quickly to sum up Frank. He's a special guy. We all feel really glad to have the opportunity to work with him."
The 49ers saved Gore in the preseason (four carries), only to unleash him in a pivotal Week 1 road victory in Green Bay.
"Frank is a true professional," Miller said. "He was ready to go in Green Bay and you saw what he did. He's a great back we can count on him to do things like that… Being able to get to the corner and stay inbounds, take a hit on the sideline and spin into the end zone, that's just Frank Gore. That's what he does. Hopefully we can see a lot more of that."
Even with many perimeter weapons being added to the 49ers this offseason, Gore, the team's offensive co-captain, feels he can be relied on whenever his number is called.
"I know they can count on me," Gore said. "I'm going to try my best to do whatever it takes to help my team be successful. I know that for a fact, they can count on me."
Gore's understudies, including second-year runner Kendall Hunter, consider it a treat to be around such a talented runner every day.
"I think he's got his own style," Hunter said. "He's very patient, a great guy, a guy you can learn everything from. Some running backs got it, some don't. He's a great guy to learn from."
Gore has no problem sharing his knowledge of the game.
In fact, he appreciates seeing his fellow running backs taking continual strides and also sees Miller becoming a key cog in the offensive attack.
"Bruce is a smart player," Gore said. "He fits nicely with what we do in this offense."
Same goes for Gore, who's eager to get back in front of the team's Faithful fans for Sunday's home opener.
"It's going to be crazy," Gore said, "especially with what happened last year. Detroit's got a good team, they won last week. Knowing we were they were their first loss last season, it should be a good game."