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Gore Becomes 49ers Rushing King


Move over Joe "The Jet." The 49ers have a new rushing king, and his name is Frank "The Tank."

In a convincing 26-0 home win over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday, one that gave the 49ers their first NFC West crown since 2002, Frank Gore surpassed former 49ers Hall of Famer Joe Perry for first place on the 49ers all-time rushing list.

Gore now has 7,396 rushing yards after picking up 73 yards on 21 carries against the Rams. He needed 22 yards to pass Perry, and picked up the honor on his seventh carry of the day.

The record, however, didn't mean very much to Gore at the time. Winning the game and getting into the playoffs for the first time of his seven-year career certainly did.

That was the observation of Gore's fullback, rookie Bruce Miller, who saw Gore's typical competitive nature come out once the offensive captain had secured the record.

"I tried to congratulate him," Miller said. "And (Frank) was like, 'Forget that, let's get the win.'"

"That's the kind of guy Frank is, a team guy. And that's all we really wanted, to win this game, clinch the division. The rushing record came second."

Gore himself spoke at the podium postgame to share his feelings on the achievements, earning an invite to the playoffs and the rushing record. But anyone who saw Gore celebrate on the field after the game knew just how much both accomplishments meant to him.

The normally reserved runner grabbed a 49ers flag and began waving it in circles in the 49ers end zone as teammates trickled into the locker room. Fans lined up to cheer the players following the win and got a special show of Gore's natural excitement oozing out for everyone to see.

"I was just having fun," Gore said.

Teammates who know Gore well, know the physical runner doesn't like to express himself like that all the time.

This, however, was unique.

"He was pumped up," left tackle Joe Staley said. "He just wants to win, that's the good thing about Frank. He doesn't care much about the record; he just want to win and our whole locker room is like that. We're happy to win, get a home playoff game guaranteed."

Gore received love from former 49ers, too.

Mentor Roger Craig sent Gore a congratulatory message after the big achievement.

"Roger texted me and said that I deserve it and to keep going," Gore said. "He is happy that I will get a chance to get to the playoffs for the first time."

Gore's coach had much to say about the contributions of his star running back, not just this season, but for the totality of his work.

"I hope by now it's well documented how I feel about Frank Gore," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said after the win. "I have the utmost respect for him as a person and as a player. It's a powerful thing to set that kind of a record."

Staley took the praise one step further.

"He's been one of the all-time great running backs," Staley said. "He deserves every accolade."

Gore has worked hard throughout his career. Now, fans outside of the Bay Area will see him playing late in January.

It just comes down to when those postseason games will be.

The 49ers are the No. 2 seed behind the undefeated Green Bay Packers. They will host a playoff game as NFC West champions, but still have work to do if they want to secure a first-round bye.

There's much on the line in these next four games. And Gore knows it's about hitting the postseason on a hot streak.

He watched the Arizona Cardinals make it to Super Bowl XLIII as NFC West champs.

"When you see that," Gore said, "that lets you know that anything can happen in the postseason. When you saw us go against Arizona that year, the games were neck and neck. It is just all about perfect timing."

If Gore's achievement happening on the same day San Francisco ended a nine-year playoff drought was any indication, perhaps there's more perfect timing to be enjoyed down the road for the 49ers.

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