METAIRIE, La. -- NFL running backs are supposed to slow down once they hit the age of 30. But the San Francisco 49ers' Frank Gore apparently hasn't gotten the memo. The ninth-year veteran has run for 700 yards and seven touchdowns this season, on the heels of back-to-back 1,200-yard campaigns in 2011 and 2012.
The 5-foot-9, 217-pounder has always stood out as a power runner. But he's surprisingly slippery as well. Just like the New Orleans Saints said two weeks ago after their game against the New York Jets, teams know that Gore is gonna be running the football "stepping off the bus." But they can't stop him anyway.
Here's what the Saints have been saying about Gore this week:
LB Parys Haralson (longtime former 49ers teammate): "Any time you play the 49ers offense and Frank Gore is there, you have to be able to stop Frank. I think that's common sense. You have to stop Frank Gore. ... Got to find a way to tackle him. It's what it calls for. Me and Frank are friends. Being there and knowing how he practices and being on the sidelines watching him against other defenses, you know what he brings to the table. He's a physical runner. He's one of the best running backs I think I've seen play the game of football."
LB Curtis Lofton: "I think he has the best pad level of any running back I've ever played against. ... I think it starts up front with the offensive line. They do a lot of shifts, motions, pulling a ton of guys. And, you know, they've got a big, physical line. And what makes Frank Gore special is he's a north and south runner. And so, when they get those big guys on you, you've got to be able to punch and get off and make plays. And he runs so low to the ground."
Coach Sean Payton: "He's a player we coached back in 2006 at the Pro Bowl. He is very durable. He has very good vision and balance, and I would describe him as strong. He's a guy that's difficult to bring down with one player. ... The first thing that comes to my mind is consistency and how long he has done it. He is very durable and he was outstanding coaching him in the Hawaii that one season. He's a special player."
LB David Hawthorne: "Frank, he's been a monster, man, ever since I've been in the league. I remember when I was in Seattle, he was like the main attraction. We always knew that we had him twice a year. We always knew what kind of runner he was. And you know, the plan of attack is you have to come at him. And you have to make a conscious effort to not let him slip by your vision. ... I feel like he's one of those guys that he's never done running, until you absolutely take his cleats out of the ground and put him on the ground. His legs are always churning. He's always fighting for extra yards."