San Francisco 49ers

In Frank Gore, Colts don’t see a runner who’s slowing down

Colts coach Chuck Pagano said his team was impressed with Frank Gore’s toughness, something Indianapolis needs in its running game
Colts coach Chuck Pagano said his team was impressed with Frank Gore’s toughness, something Indianapolis needs in its running game AP

PHOENIX -- Frank Gore, who never liked coming off the field in 10 seasons with the 49ers, won't be spending much time on the sideline in Indianapolis. Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said one of the things they liked most about Gore was that he was a three-down back, who showed no signs of slowing down last season.

"You just put the tape on and you still see the production," Pagano said. "He's a tough, hard-nosed, every-down back. He can play all three downs."

Gore, 31, seemed poised to join the Eagles in free agency before turning to Indianapolis, which signed him to a three-year, $12 million contract. Among the things that made the Colts attractive to Gore: 1.) They have an excellent young quarterback in Andrew Luck who can take the defense's attention away from the running game. 2.) They have a legitimate shot at reaching a Super Bowl in coming years.

There’s perhaps a third reason: The Colts still see Gore as an every-down back. The 49ers have yet to enunciate their plans for the upcoming season. But general manager Trent Baalke has spoken in the past about having three complementary runners. The team already has two good ones in Carlos Hyde and Kendall Hunter, and the 49ers recently signed Reggie Bush, a prolific receiver out of the backfield, to a one-year deal.

The Colts, meanwhile, coveted Gore's grit. Their rushing attack finished 22nd, 20th and 22nd over the last three seasons.

Pagano called Gore "tough as nails." "He's one of the toughest guys we've seen play this game," he said. "We still feel that obviously he's a guy with a lot left."

Asked if Gore was still capable of carrying the ball 20-25 times a game, Pagano said the game film suggests he gets better the more carries he has. "Some guys are like that," he said. "Carry 1-20, they're ok. And 20 to 30 they keep getting better as they wear defenses down. And I think Frank's that type of runner."

Read Matt Barrows’ blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers.

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