Frank Gore, Running back
GORE MIGHT be the league's most insecure Pro Bowl running back. It's not uncommon for him to ask out-of-town reporters what people are saying about his game. He remains miffed that he wasn't selected until the third round of the 2005 draft and still tracks the output of the five backs drafted ahead of him—Ronnie Brown, Cedric Benson, Cadillac Williams, J.J. Arrington and Eric Shelton—his goal being to end his career with statistics that surpass any of theirs.
Which brings us to the 49ers' signing of former Pro Bowl running back Brian Westbrook. The move wasn't made to motivate Gore, who remains the unchallenged starter. But anyone who knows Gore acknowledges that it will push the sixth-year pro even harder; if he's unwilling to be shown up by someone drafted ahead of him, he's definitely not going to accept being outplayed by someone on his own team.
A former University of Miami star, Gore is the only back in 49ers history to surpass 1,000 yards rushing in four consecutive seasons, and his 4,953 rushing yards during that time rank fourth in the league. When asked if Westbrook's presence could push him past the franchise single-season record of 1,695 yards rushing he set in 2006, Gore flashed a broad smile. It was a smile similar to the one that a team official displayed when discussing how Westbrook's arrival could benefit the team in multiple ways, including providing a change-of-pace threat, playoff experience for a team that hasn't reached the postseason since '02—and added motivation for the speedy and bruising Gore.