New 49ers RB Tim Hightower pays tribute to ex-Hurricanes legend Frank Gore

Frank Gore #21 of the San Francisco 49ers enters the field before the game against the St. Louis Rams at Levi’s Stadium on November 2, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Frank Gore’s old No. 21 jersey has not been worn by a San Francisco 49ers player since the organization’s all-time rushing leader left as a free agent after the 2014 season.

That almost changed when the franchise’s new equipment staff assigned it to free-agent signee Tim Hightower. But Hightower declined the digits out of respect for the former Miami Hurricane.

Hightower posted a picture on Instagram in front of his new locker with the nameplate “Hightower 21.” 

In the post, he used a series of hashtags to show 21 was the “#numbertheygaveme” and that it “#willbechanged.” He went on declare “much respect” for Gore, calling him a “#legend” whose “#numbershouldberetired.”

That honor could be a formality given Gore’s prominent place in the 49ers’ history books. He sits atop the team’s all-time rushing charts for yards (11,073), carries (2,442), touchdowns (64), 100-yard games (39) and 1,000-yard seasons (eight). He made five Pro Bowls during his tenure.

Gore has spent the past two seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, totaling 2,536 yards from scrimmage and 15 combined rushing and receiving scores.

The Miami native was with the Hurricanes for four seasons, but played in only three of them after suffering ACL tears in both knees. He was the sixth running back selected in the 2005 draft, taken 65th overall by the 49ers. His career 13,065 rushing yards are more than twice as many as any player in his draft class (Cedric Benson, the fourth pick, is closest at 6,017).