UPDATE: Frank Gore decided to sign with the Indianapolis Colts over the Eagles, which is great for Niner fans! It’s much easier to root for Gore in the AFC than the NFC. Best of luck Frank!
Well, Niner fans, it’s been a busy week in Santa Clara. The San Francisco 49ers signed Australian rugby star Jarryd Hayne – technically he is a “Rugby Union” star, which you can learn more about here. It’s an unconventional move, but I’m excited to see what Hayne can bring to the offense.
Speaking of offensive moves, San Francisco also signed troubled wide receiver Jerome Simpson to a two-year deal. I’m all for second chances, but in case you missed it, since Simpson’s 2008 rookie season, he has been arrested three times and suspended twice. He missed the first three games of the 2014 season due to a suspension and was subsequently released by the Minnesota Vikings after they learned of a July 2014 marijuana arrest. Even 49ers’ owner Jed York was confused by GM Trent Baalke’s decision to sign Simpson, telling The San Francisco Chronicle’s Ann Killion, “I don’t know what the thinking was.” It does seem like a weird way to start “winning with class,” but ok. Either way, I really hope Simpson can turn his life around and leave his demons out of Santa Clara.
In news that makes sense, defensive tackle Darnell Dockett has signed with the Niners, which will do a lot to bolster an already talented defense. Dockett comes to Santa Clara via the Arizona Cardinals. He missed last season due to a torn ACL but a healthy Dockett is a force to be reckoned with. Interestingly, Dockett was a defensive tackle in Arizona until they switched to a 3-4 defense, at which point he started at defensive end. This leads me to wonder whether the 49ers will in fact be switching from a 3-4 defensive scheme to a 4-3. We shall see – lots of potential changes ahead.
And speaking of changes, I knew things were going in a bad direction a couple of weeks ago when Frank Gore took to Instagram to question the team’s commitment to him and, unfortunately, I was right. I am very sad to report that it looks like our beloved, superstar running back is going to Philadelphia. The future hall of famer has spent his thus far 10-year career with the 49ers, and Baalke, York, and Gore had indicated that they wanted him to finish his career there. But, it is not to be.
The fans love Frank Gore. His teammates love Frank Gore. I love Frank Gore. But, and this may be controversial, I get the decision on both sides. Gore is nearing the end of his career and would like to be compensated as the all-star running back he is (Philly is reportedly giving him a three-year deal that will include $7.5 million guaranteed over the first two years). If you’re Gore, you can’t turn that down. And if you’re the cap-strapped 49ers, you can’t afford to compete with it. San Francisco has too many other pressing needs, so although I don’t like it, I get it.
That being said, this fan is sad today. I’m a little embarrassed to say I teared up a bit when I saw the news. It’s going to look very different at Levi’s Stadium next season, and it remains to be seen if it’s for better or for worse. But either way, Frank Gore has been an elite 49er, one who will be in the Hall of Fame one day. Thank you Frank Gore. Thank you for giving this team all you had. Thank you for being a leader on the field, in the locker room, and in the community. Thank you for your 11,073 yards and 64 TDs. We will see you in Canton, and maybe, just maybe, in the playoffs. Though the thought of that scares me. You’re up Carlos Hyde. The field is yours, and you have some big shoes to fill.