Frank Gore is getting plenty of love from 49ers fans as the team’s all-time leading rusher heads toward free agency next month. The team’s management? Gore apparently isn’t feeling the same level of devotion just yet.
“I know the fans love me,” he wrote on his Instagram account Sunday, “but I need to know if the management does but I’m going to love my fans no matter what.”
Gore is scheduled to hit the open market for the first time in his career on March 10. In December, general manager Trent Baalke told CSN Bay Area that the 49ers want Gore back in 2015 but that he wasn’t sure whether the two sides can come to an agreement. “Time will tell,” he said.
Gore is coming off his eighth 1,000-yard season in his 10-year career. A source close to him said Gore wants two things: 1.) Another 1,000-yard season, which would put him past 12,000 yards for his career, and 2.) A chance at a Super Bowl title.
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Achieving both would boost Gore toward his goal of reaching the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Gore met with legendary Steelers running back Franco Harris after running for a season-high 158 yards against the Chargers on Dec. 20. Harris, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1990, told Gore he had a chance to join him there.
Gore would need to be the 49ers’ lead running back to gain 1,000 yards. He earned nearly $6.5 million in each of the last two seasons, a figure the 49ers -- or any other team -- are unlikely to give to a runner who turns 32 in May. It’s also unknown whether the 49ers plan to give more carries in 2015 to Carlos Hyde, a second-round pick in 2014 who showed promise as a rookie.
Hyde has a rare combination of size and agility, and his style seems to mesh well with the stretch-run style blocking new offensive line coach Chris Foerster used effectively when he was in Washington. For all his talents, however, Hyde averaged 4.0 yards on 83 carries last season. Gore, who is eight years older, averaged 4.3 yards on 255 attempts.
This isn’t the first time Gore and the 49ers were at a contract impasse. He held out for four days of training camp in 2011 because he was entering the final year of his deal and wanted an extension. A deal eventually was hammered out, but it expires next month.
The 49ers’ top negotiator, team president Paraag Marathe, will be in Indianapolis this week for the annual scouting combine. That’s typically where deals between teams and agents are discussed. Gore’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, represents a number of prominent 49ers, including linebacker NaVorro Bowman and tackle Anthony Davis.
Read Matt Barrows’ blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers.