The 49ers, like Gore's teammates and fans, respect the sixth-year running back very much. They also do not want to overpay for past performance at a position where longevity is rare. Gore is 28 years old and has fought to overcome a long list of injuries, from ACL tears to the hip injury that sidelined him for the final five games last season.
The latest story regarding Gore's public fight for a new deal says Gore wants a contract similar to the one DeAngelo Williams recently signed with the Carolina Panthers. Three questions come to mind immediately:
Which player has done more to earn a new deal? Gore, by just about any measure.
Which player appears best positioned to produce for the long term? Williams has 44 fewer starts and 682 fewer touches (carries plus receptions), an indication his odometer has fewer miles.
Who has the most leverage here? The 49ers. They showed restraint all through free agency, letting multiple defensive starters test the market and sign elsewhere. They value Gore more than they valued those players, but Gore also has a contract for 2011. The team could name him its franchise player in 2012. Gore has no viable options if the 49ers choose to stand firm.
This is likely to end one of a few ways.
Gore, realizing his options are limited, could accept a deal that looks good on paper without really changing his financial situation for the long term. Gore, frustrated by his inability to get a new deal, could hold out or consider hiring another agent. I'd be surprised if the 49ers came through with anything close to the $16 million signing bonus Williams received, even though Gore has done more to earn that type of money.