SANTA CLARA -- When former 49ers general manager Scot McCloughan took an injury-prone running back in the third round of the 2005 draft, there was the obvious question.
Could Frank Gore, who sustained two torn ACLs during his time at the University of Miami, remain healthy and productive in the NFL?
“He was definitely a risk,” McCloughan said. “But his heart was so big that he was going to fight through it.”
Gore, 31, enters his 10th NFL season with a streak of 56 consecutive games played, including eight postseason appearances.
Early in the 2011 season, Gore was hobbled with an ankle injury and did not practice leading up to a game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Coach Jim Harbaugh spoke with Gore during warmups. The men agreed Kendall Hunter should get the start that day.
Gore jogged onto the field for the fourth play of the game to test his ankle. He immediately ripped off a 40-yard run. He finished the day with 127 yards and a touchdown on 15 rushing attempts.
He started the next week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, rushing for 125 yards. Gore has made every start since.
Gore’s mark of 44 consecutive regular-season starts to enter this season ranks No. 1 among current NFL running backs. Washington’s Alfred Morris is second at 32, while Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles is third at 30.
Gore is the 49ers’ all-time leading rusher. He goes into Sunday’s season-opener at the Dallas Cowboys just 33 yards shy of becoming the 29th player in NFL history with 10,000 yards or more rushing in a career.