The San Francisco 49ers won't look the same in 2012. After years of handing the rock to Frank Gore -- and, often, only Frank Gore -- they now house a versatile stable of backs.
Gore, participating in the team's offseason workout program, is joined on the roster by Brandon Jacobs, Kendall Hunter, Anthony Dixon, Rock Cartwright, fullback Bruce Miller and second-round pick LaMichael James (not to mention undrafted free-agent back Jewel Hampton, who looms as a dark horse).
Comcast SportsNet Bay Area charted every play from last season to reveal that Gore played two-thirds of the snaps as San Francisco's featured back. Hunter played when Gore didn't, and the 49ers plan to use more of the younger back, not less. All of this points to a reduced role, but Gore isn't fading quietly into the night. His 1,211 yards in 2011 were the second best of his career.
"I feel like I still got a lot left in my tank," Gore told the team's official website. "I want to show it off that I still got a lot left in my tank and I can play at a high level. I will play at a high level as long as God blesses me to be healthy so I can go out and do something that I love."
Gore is days away from his 29th birthday and even if he leads the way, we expect a changed backfield in San Francisco. The Jacobs addition remains puzzling, but the 49ers have successfully stocked the position with fresh legs. After narrowly missing a Super Bowl berth last season, coach Jim Harbaugh will employ every weapon they possess in 2012.