The odds were against him, but NFL stardom was always Frank Gore's dream and now he's making it come true

  • Frank Gore scored a touchdown and ran for 127 yards in the 49er's victory over the Rams 20-13 on Sunday, September 17, 2006. photo by John Burgess/The Press Democrat

Frank Gore listened apprehensively as his high school coach outlined everything he had to accomplish in the classroom to realize his dream of playing college football.

The list was daunting.

"He broke down and started to cry," Coral Gables High coach Joe Montoya recalled. "I told him, 'If you really want to play, you have to do these things.'"

Frank Gore wanted to play football - that has never been in question.

Gore exhibits the same drive today as a second-year 49ers running back as when he was a junior in high school. He has overcome tremendous personal challenges to rank second in the NFL with 1,043 yards rushing, entering Sunday's game against the St. Louis Rams.

Gore set a 49ers-record with 212 rushing yards in a 20-14 victory against the Seattle Seahawks. He was named NFC offensive player of the week on Wednesday for the second time this season.

Yet, with all his natural ability and a relentless desire to maximize his football skills, Gore could have seen it all end after a record-setting high school career.

Gore was enrolled in special-education classes in English and math during his first two years at Coral Gables because of a learning disability, affecting his comprehension of written material.

Montoya knew if Gore did not make up credits from the two years of regular classes his missed, he would not qualify for college. His aspirations of a professional career would likely be finished.

"When he realized he was that far behind, Frank told me, 'I don't know if I can make up all this work,'" Montoya said. "I said, 'Yes, you can. You just have to take it one thing at a time.'"

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