Somebody asked Frank Gore what he thought of shrimp and grits, which adorned tables all around him at this Super Bowl XLVII media breakfast, and he said those would have tasted fine when he was growing up in Miami’s Coconut Grove. Only, they were a little out of his mom’s price range.
Gore comes into Sunday’s big one as a 29-year-old who seems to get better the farther he runs. His calves bulge like Olympians only dream. His forearms are a blacksmith’s envy. If you made up a do-it-yourself kit to build an NFL runner, this is what would come out of it, 5-9 and 217 pounds of fury in unthrottled motion.
“I don’t know about all that stuff,” Gore said, chuckling easily. “I just try to keep chipping away.”
His “chipping” — Gore’s word, not mine — was, next to Colin Kaepernick’s quarterbacking, the biggest factor in the 49ers making this Super Bowl. But just making it here isn’t enough.
“I love being here,” Gore said. “I love everything about it. But just getting here won’t do it. I found out at the University of Miami that you have to be ready for anything and everything, and that’s never been clearer in my mind than it is this week.”
He hesitates for just a moment, and then said, “You have to finish. You have to finish whatever you start.”
Gore learned that early on, growing up with two sisters and a brother in his mom’s one-bedroom apartment in the Grove. “My mom always managed to put enough on the table, no matter how hard it must have been for her,” he said softly.
Sunday amid the thicket of Baltimore Ravens defenders won’t get any more crowded for Gore than it was in that little place in the Grove.
That was a dozen years ago, when he first played for Joe Montoya at Gables before moving on to the University of Miami. So, just as a historical note, Gore is asked what he thinks of Ravens safety Bernard Pollard saying there probably wouldn’t even be an NFL 30 years from now.
“Oh, I wouldn’t say that,” Gore said. “Somebody was probably saying the same thing 30 years ago, and look at all this right now.”
Hey, just look at him right now.
Sure, the Ravens’ Ray Rice is also a premier toter, but Gore is the one whose name really describes his running. He’s all thighs and shoulders — and dust. He thunders rather than scampers. Ground beneath him almost seems to shake.
“I had great coaches,” Gore said in his self-effacing way. “Joe Montoya at Gables, and so many at UM. And everybody from Jim Harbaugh on down with the 49ers. You know, I’ve never had to do anything all by myself. I’ve always had great teammates, great family.”
So did they.