Frank Gore's legendary ten-year run with the San Francisco 49ers won't soon be forgotten, and his franchise-record 11,073 rushing yards could very well stand the test of time. However, the time is now for the 49ers to officially turn the page on the last decade and focus on setting their backfield up for success for the future.
With that being said, here's 3 running back we feel the 49ers should target to replace Frank Gore.
When in doubt, go to the draft. The San Francisco 49ers aren't likely to utilize their first-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft on a running back, but they won't need to in order to pick up this young, potential Frank Gore clone in the second or third round. Ajayi can do everything you want out of a modern NFL back -- be it rushing, catching, or throwing up monster blocks. The Boise State product's also bigger and faster than Gore was coming out of college, combining raw physical power with an intelligence that belies his age. Pairing him with Hyde could be a deadly 1-2 combo.
There's potential downside to replacing a back heading into his age-32 season with a back heading into his age-30 season, but Bush would do wonders at reintroducing the screen pass to the San Francisco 49ers' arsenal -- especially if he can feasibly get back to the durability (and production/touches) of his 2011-13 campaigns with Miami and Detroit. The 49ers would do well to take a look at Bush, especially if his price tag remains relatively reasonable.
This may sould like a cop out, but the San Francisco 49ers don't necessarily need to go wild in free agency or the draft in hopes of finding Frank Gore's replacement -- Carlos Hyde (along with Kendall Hunter and recently signed Rugby League star Jarryd Hayne) could be what it takes to do the trick.
Hyde is a physical, downhill rusher who is far from shy about initiating first contact. He led all rookies with a 4.0 yard per carry average in 2014 and tied Gore for the team lead with four rushing touchdowns. In a league where running backs' shelf lives seem to be decreasing, going young and dynamic with Hyde instead of swinging for the fences elsewhere may be the way to go.
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