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Frank Gore may be overlooked these days, but now he's the NFL's 5th all-time rusher

Gore ran past Jerome Bettis and LaDainian Tomlinson to land in the top 5.

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Frank Gore may have faded from the spotlight as he’s started for an increasingly mediocre Colts franchise, but the veteran tailback hasn’t stopped doing hie job. On Sunday, he passed both Jerome Bettis and LaDainian Tomlinson to climb into the top five on the NFL’s all-time yards rushing leaders list.

Gore came into Week 13 with 13,636 yards on the ground. It took him less than 20 minutes to chase down Bettis, whose spot he usurped with an 11-yard gain early in the second quarter.

One quarter later, he ran down Tomlinson to claim his spot in the top five of an extremely prestigious list. Gore’s 16-yard explosion put him at 58 yards through 35 minutes of play and pushed his career yardage total to 13,694 yards, good for fifth-place all time.

What’s so special about Frank Gore?

Gore is an oft-overlooked member among the NFL’s top runners. The five-time Pro Bowler is in his 13th season as a pro, nine of which ended with 1,000 rushing yards or more. He began his career by spending 10 years in San Francisco, eventually breaking Joe Perry’s decades-old franchise record with more than 11,000 yards with the 49ers. He was also explosive in the playoffs — he had 110 yards and a touchdown in Super Bowl XLVII and averaged more than 4.6 yards per carry in the postseason.

While he slowed down as he aged into his 30s, he proved he was still capable of handling a big role in an NFL offense. He’s been the Colts’ starting tailback since 2015, starting 44 straight games in Indianapolis and providing a bruising veteran presence. He’s been asked to produce in the face of a limited passing threat thanks to an injured Andrew Luck and been a bright spot in an often dismal offense. While his per-carry average has dipped below 4.0 in each of his three seasons in Indianapolis, he still ground out a 1,000-yard performance last season. With little else to plan for, defenses have been forced to focus on Gore — who keeps delivering in spite of that.

What’s next for Frank Gore?

Unfortunately, a mismanaged Colts team appears hellbent on keep Gore out of the playoffs for the fourth straight season. 2017 is the last season on a three-year, $12 million deal he signed with Indianapolis, and his future is very much in question.

Gore may return for a 14th season next fall. After averaging a career-low 3.5 yards per carry this season, it’s unlikely it will be as a starter. Plenty of teams could use a veteran runner known for gaining tough yards, however — especially a player as accomplished as Gore. If suitors line up to add him to a tailback platoon, it could provide one last chance to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.

After Sunday’s game, he’ll be approximately 400 yards from catching Curtis Martin (14,101 rushing yards) for No. 4 on the all-time list. While he’s unlikely to catch Barry Sanders for third (15,269), Gore still has a chance to make history. If he wants to come back for a 14th season, teams will be interested. The question is now whether he’ll be effective enough to earn the carries to continue climbing up a ladder of elite NFL running backs.