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Matt Maiocco explains why 49ers likely won’t retire Frank Gore’s number



Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

No one has donned the number 21 since Frank Gore left San Francisco in 2015. And it’s possible no one may wear that number again for the 49ers.

Gore recently revealed that he plans to sign a one-day contract with the team and retire as a 49er.

But NBC Sports’ Matt Maiocco isn’t so sure the team will officially retire the number. The organization has had some logistical issues due to the fact that the organization has retired an absurd 12 numbers and team CEO Jed York has said he’d like to honor players in different ways.

He also suggested that when someone else dons that number, it reminds you of the legend who wore it before them.

“Jed has said that they kind of want to get away from the retiring of numbers, that there’s a better way to honor these guys,” Maiocco said. “And it’s funny, I was just thinking about this today, that wasn’t necessarily with Frank Gore. But you know, when you when you retire a number, that number, yeah, it might be kind of stuck into the into the stadium somewhere, but it does kind of disappear from your mind. When you see Nick Bosa wearing number 97, at least early on, you would think a little bit about Bryant Young.

Again, no one has worn the number 21 since Gore left, as there’s been a tacit understanding that it’s to be left unworn, for now. Maiocco suggested that might be the way the 49ers deal with newer legends, by quasi-retiring the number until someone else earns the right to wear it.

“I know Jed has said that, for a guy like Frank, keep that number out of the picture for a while and then when a special player comes along, you give that player that number,” Maiocco said. “So it kind of serves that purpose of carrying on that lineage, but also makes you hearken back to the good old days.”

He didn’t completely rule out the 49ers retiring Gore or Joe Staley’s numbers, saying those two would be the ones to deserve it.

But at this point, it’s a logistical issue.

“Jed has been on the record saying that he kind of wants to get away from that just because you lose available numbers,” Maiocco said. “And now with these 90-man rosters in the offseason, those numbers, whether you have a whole lot of duplications or not, it’s maybe not the perfect way to honor somebody.”

Below are the 49ers’ retired numbers:

8-Steve Young

12-John Brodie

16-Joe Montana

34-Joe Perry

37-Jimmy Johnson

39-Hugh McElhenny

42-Ronnie Lott

70-Charlie Krueger

73-Leo Nomellini

79-Bob St. Clair

80-Jerry Rice

87-Dwight Clark

Listen to the full interview below. You can listen to every KNBR interview on our podcast page at knbr.com/podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.

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