I'm working on a story about Frank Gore in advance of Sunday's game and texted Jim Harbaugh earlier this week hoping he'd have a minute to talk about his one-time tailback.
He texted back this evening with his thoughts. Of course, a quote from Harbaugh will make it into the final story, but I thought his words were worthy of their own blog post.
Here's Harbaugh on the 49ers' all-time leading rusher:
Frank is a real a guy as I have ever met or been associated with. I loved that he was the first person in the building and would start the day at 5:45 am with a 45 minute full-blown cardio workout, followed up with an hour pass protection meeting.
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I loved that he is one of the greatest team players the game has ever known. Stats were not his motivation like many skill players. It speaks volumes that he is the NFL's best pass protecting back of all time; no one has done it better.
Many great memories or Frank -- great player, remarkable talent and gives everything he has, proud father, never lies or kept secrets, enjoyable to be around, toughness and grit.
In 2011 we played at Philadelphia. He hurt his ankle the week before and couldn't practice all week. We were going to make him inactive for the game, but he wanted to go out early and see if he could warm it up. He said he'd go and I had my doubts. After that game I never doubted Frank Gore again.
Frank Gore is one of a kind! I don't think there will ever be another back like him.
Addendum: That game in Philadelphia was the second of a back-to-back eastern-time-zone road trip. The 49ers spent the week prior in Youngstown, Ohio and then upset the Eagles 24-23. It was the game that served notice to the rest of the NFL that the long-dormant 49ers had woken up.
Gore not only played on his bad ankle, he had 127 yards and a touchdown. He hasn't missed a game since then, either.