At 38 years old, it would be totally unsurprising if Frank Gore called it quits. He's just not ready to do that yet.
Gore is again a man without a team entering the 2021 season, and after gaining 653 yards on 187 attempts and scoring two rushing touchdowns in 2020, the free agent is preparing as if he'll play somewhere this fall.
"I know that I can still play the game, I know I can help a team," Gore told KNBR on Thursday. "But it's also got to be the right situation that I feel that I can be on a team that could go to the playoffs and get a chance to probably go to the Super Bowl. I know that I can still play the game of football, but I also want to be in the right situation on the right team."
Gore's experience from his one-year stint with the traveling nightmare that was the 2020 Jets is clearly still fresh in his mind, and as he approaches 40 years old, the last thing he wants to do is land with another cellar-dweller. The Bay Area locals asked Gore if he'd instead like to make a homecoming to the 49ers, and he saw the writing on their depth chart: They have younger backs to get reps.
Gore did add, though, that he'd be ready if the 49ers or anyone else called. In fact, he's already received some calls, but he's waiting it out before making his decision. And if none of the available options are suitable for Gore, he might just walk away.
"I talked to a couple teams, but my agent told me not to put any teams' names out there. I kind of want to wait to training camp," Gore said. "I want to feel that. I want to wait to see if it's the right situation for me. … If a team calls and I feel like it's right, I'ma do it. But if I don't like the situation, I'll say forget it and I'll retire. ... If I don't feel like it's the right situation, I'll retire."
As it stands, Gore is at exactly 16,000 career rushing yards, still 2,355 yards from all-time leader Emmitt Smith, and 726 from the late Walter Payton. He'd need a season or two to pass Payton, and it's likely he'll never come close to Smith.
Still, 16,000 is a very cool, round number to retire on. It sounds, though, as if Gore is not quite ready to do that yet.