Baalke: 49ers not looking to replace Gore

Baalke: 49ers not looking to replace Gore
May 6, 2011, 8:07 pm
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May 6, 2011MAIOCCO ARCHIVE49ERS PAGE 49ERS VIDEOMatt MaioccoCSNBayArea.comRunning back Frank Gore enters the final year of his contract, and the 49ers have now selected running backs in the past three drafts.While the 49ers are planning for life without Gore as the 49ers' every-down back, 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said the club has no intention of running him out of town."I think you always have to plan for the future," 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said upon the selection of Oklahoma State running Kendall Hunter."We look at Frank as a 49er and a guy that we would love to have here for his career. This isn't a move to try to replace Frank by any stretch. He's a 49er. Those are the guys that we want to keep in the fold. This is just a chance for us to add a quality player at a position that we needed another player at."
The 49ers selected Hunter on Saturday in the fourth round with the No. 115 overall pick. Hunter rushed for more than 1,500 yards and 16 touchdowns as a sophomore and again as a senior. Injuries limited his production as junior.Hunter (5-foot-7 14, 199 pounds) is outside the mold of running backs the 49ers have drafted over the past two decades. The last running back the 49ers selected -- and who wasn't immediately released -- that compares to Hunter's size was Dexter Carter. A first-round pick in 1990, Carter was 5-9, 170.The 49ers selected 236-pound Anthony Dixon in the sixth round of the 2010 draft. A year earlier, the 49ers invested a third-round selection in power-running Glen Coffee. After one full NFL season, Coffee abruptly retired last summer during training camp.Dixon ended up sharing time with veteran Brian Westbrook after Gore's injury. Westbrook was the 49ers' second-leading rusher with 340 yards on 77 carries, while Dixon gained 237 yards on 70 attempts. Westbrook is a free agent and the club has no intention of re-signing him with a backfield already consisting of Gore, Dixon and Hunter.
Prior to sustaining a season-ending hip fracture in the 11th game of last season, Gore was on the field for 558 or the 49ers' 602 offensive plays (92.7 percent). In selecting Hunter, the 49ers do not believe they are getting just a third-down contributor, Baalke said."We feel real good with him as a three-down, actually a four-down contributor," Baalke said. "He's a guy that proved that during the season. Obviously, he's a skilled running back. He also offers us some very good value as a kickoff returner. As he showed at the Senior Bowl, he can step up in pass-protection. He did very well in the one-on-ones. We're looking at him as a complete back, not just a change-of-pace guy."

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