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According to Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young, 49ers tailback Frank Gore is arguably the most undervalued player in NFL history and one of the best ever at his respective position.
“Frank is the most underrated football player -– and this is not hyperbole –- honestly that I’ve ever known,” Young said on KNBR. "He’s one of the best backs I’ve ever seen or watch play."
Young, who led the 49ers to a Super Bowl in 1994, went on to identify Gore's attributes, and what makes him great.
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“He might not explode for 80 (yards), but how many guys really do that that change games? Wouldn’t you rather have a guy that made every first down?” Young asked. “Third-and-four and he got you five because of his unique, incredible capability to wait and hold.
"He has made more first downs just purely on guts and guile.”
Young, currently an analyst for ESPN, then alluded to Gore's college knee injuries as the reasons why the 49er is underrated year in and year out.
“He’s a well-known player, but no one understands how great he really is. The things he does, the things he helps with in all facets of the game, the kind of guy he is on the field. He’s just a really, really good player.”
Gore has had seven 1,000-plus-yard seasons since he was named a starter in 2006. The one year he failed to reach the mark, 2010, the running back was limited to 11 games due to injury.
And according to the advanced statistics at Pro Football Focus, Gore stayed in to pass block 81 times last season, which was the most of any NFL running back.
He also graded out the highest in said metric.
Gore is the 49ers' all-time leading rusher with 9,967 yards on the ground, placing him alongside the franchise's offensive leaders in Jerry Rice (receiving) and Joe Montana (passing).
His career rushing yardage ranks him 29th in NFL history. Of the 26 retired backs ahead of him, 13 have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
And Young believes the 31-year-old is still a threat.
"What running back is atop of his game at 35? What's Frank? 32?" Young asked. "When Frank's on the field, things are going to be okay."
"Coaches will be foolish to treat Frank any other way than, 'We got to make sure this guy doesn't touch the ball too many times.' That would be foolish not to treat him as somebody you have to take care of."