SANTA CLARA — Frank Gore on Wednesday said he initially was “kind of bitter” at the 49ers but has since accepted that his departure was merely business as usual in the NFL.
Gore is San Francisco’s all-time leading rusher and was coming off his fourth consecutive 1,100-yard season in 2014. With his contract set to expire, the 49ers offered him only a one-year deal and he instead joined the Indianapolis Colts on a three-year, $12 million deal. During a conference call Wednesday, Gore said it was clear the team wanted Carlos Hyde, whom they selected in the second round in 2014, to be their new back.
“They had a young guy and Trent Baalke drafted him and that’s who they wanted to play,” Gore said. “They wanted to go in a new direction. What can I do? I just know that when I left, I left on good terms.”
While Gore, 34, had eight, 1,000-yard seasons with the 49ers, Hyde, 27, still is looking for his first. His initial three seasons ended with injuries — to his ankle, foot and knee. Hyde is currently dealing with an oblique injury, but has played through the issue the past two games and ranks sixth in the NFL with 321 yards. Gore is 21st with 191 yards.
“When he’s healthy, he’s one of the top young guys still,” Gore said of Hyde. “I always thought that he had talent. This year he’s doing great. He’s playing very hard. I watched the Seattle game. He’s playing very hard. I think he’s one of the bright spots of that offense, they’re putting a lot on his shoulders.”
Gore last year became the first 33-year-old since John Riggins to surpass 1,000 yards rushing and he is the Colts’ leading rusher through four games. However, he’s averaging just 3.1 yards per carry, the lowest average of his career.