Frank Gore has heard the questions.
Does he still have it? Can he still do it?
Now 31 and entering his 10th NFL season, the San Francisco 49ers all-time leading rusher said he understands why they’re posed, and he fields them one at a time, as he did on Wednesday, day one of the team’s training camp.
"I knew from seven years on that I would hear that every year, so it doesn’t bother me," he told a group of reporters circling him. "I train hard during the offseason, I practice hard during camp. I’m just trying to be the Frank Gore I have always been."
Gore showed no signs of slowing down in 2013, gaining 1,128 yards on 276 carries, the third-highest single-season total of his career. Asked whether he will take on a similar workload this coming season, Gore said, “I’m here. I’m still here. So why not?
"I’m from Miami, man," he added. "I’ve been competing every since I left high school. I’m up for it."
For the record, Jim Harbaugh said he thinks Gore has “three more good years” ahead of him, and former NFL running back Terrell Davis expects the same ol’ Gore.
But there’s another reason the questions keep coming: Behind their all-time leading rusher, the 49ers have five talented ball carriers entering their primes.
- Kendall Hunter, 25, fourth season
- LaMichael James, 24, third season
- Jewel Hampton, 24, second season
- Marcus Lattimore, 22, second season
- Carlos Hyde, 22, first season
Gore has applauded the team’s depth at the position, but that doesn’t mean he wants to see his rushing attempts decline in 2014.
In fact, he welcomes his younger teammates’ challenge for his starting spot.
"One day, they’re going to have to get this role," he said. "While I’m here, I’m going to make it a challenge."