Artifact of the Game: 49ers vs. Cardinals
This story will appear in the Dec. 28 issue of the San Francisco 49ers Gameday magazine.
Frank Gore Sets 49ers Rushing Touchdown Mark Against Cardinals
By Joe Hession, 49ers Museum historian
Frank Gore’s two-yard touchdown plunge in a 27-13 win over the Arizona Cardinals on the final day of the 2012 season put the 49ers running back in rare company.
It was Gore’s 51st career rushing score, the most by a 49ers player since the team joined the NFL. He hurdled past Roger Craig and Joe Perry on the club’s touchdown rushing list and made a case for himself as the greatest running back in 49ers history.
Perry teamed with Hugh McElhenny, John Henry Johnson and Y.A. Tittle in the 49ers Million Dollar Backfield of the 1950s, and was the first NFL player with back–to–back 1,000– yard rushing seasons. Perry was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1969, and the Edward J. DeBartolo Sr. 49ers Hall of Fame in 2009. When he retired in 1963, after 14 seasons with the 49ers, Perry was briefly Pro Football’s all–time leading rusher with 9,723 yards. He gained over 1,300 of those yards when the 49ers played in the All America Football Conference before joining the NFL.
Gore has surpassed Perry’s marks and solidified his place alongside 49ers backfield legends like McElhenny, Johnson, Perry, Craig, Ken Willard, Ricky Watters and Garrison Hearst. He’s also earned praise from coaches, teammates and opponents around the league.
“Frank Gore, since the day I got here, has been the heart and soul, really,” 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. “This year when the going gets tough, things aren’t going the way you like, we’re not producing to the level we expect, or are used to, or want to, or working for, who’s blinking? Who’s going to change? Not Frank Gore.”
In 2013, Gore posted his team-record seventh 1,000-yard rushing season and earned his fifth Pro Bowl selection. The former third-round draft choice from Miami now stands alone atop 49ers running backs with records for career rushing attempts, rushing touchdowns (64), 100-yard rushing games (38), and all-time rushing yards with nearly 11,000.
“Frank is the most underrated football player, and this is not hyperbole, that I’ve ever known,” former 49ers quarterback Steve Young said. “He’s a well-known player, but no one understands how great he really is. He’s one of the best backs I’ve ever seen or watched play.”
Gore’s performance has not gone unnoticed in the 49ers locker room. His coaches consider him the consummate professional and have recognized him with a unique honor. Gore and linebacker Patrick Willis are the only two-time recipients of the Bill Walsh Award, which is voted on by the coaches, and given annually to the 49ers team MVP.
“You don’t see anything slowing down,” fullback Bruce Miller said after watching Gore peel off 158 yards rushing against the San Diego Chargers. “The guy plays his tail off the whole game and is one of the best runners that has ever been.”
Indeed, Gore may not stop running until he reaches Canton, Ohio. To see the football cleats and gloves worn by Gore when he broke Perry’s touchdown record against the Cardinals, visit the 49ers Museum presented by Sony. Also on display are a remarkable collection of Perry’s memorabilia, including the watch he received as recipient of the 1958 Len Eshmont Award. Museum guests also can visit the 49ers Hall of Fame, which features life–sized statues of all 25 members that have been honored by the team. For more information on Museum tickets, hours and content, visit levisstadium.com/Museum. For group pricing call 415-GO-49ERS.