SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – The new NFL rule that moved kickoffs back five yards has led to a 31 percent decrease in kickoff returns in pre-season games.

Some fans and ex-players have said it’s making the game less exciting.

“This isn’t a game enhancement rule, it’s a safety issue,” John Madden told the KCBS morning crew, noting the high number of injuries on kickoffs.

“You can’t put it in for safety and then evaluate it for game enhancement… Anytime you put in a new rule, the pundits take a shot at the rule and say it shouldn’t be.” But because it’s about safety, John said, “This one is hard to go back on.”

49ers running back Frank Gore has signed a contract extension that will give him a big pay increase over the next three years.

“If they’re going to do anything, he’s going to be such a big part of it,” Madden said. “The number one offensive threat for the 49ers is going to be Frank Gore, so you kind of pay him that way.”

Gore is 28, old for an NFL running back, and John said that had something to do with Gore’s demand for an extension.

“That’s why he wants to get it now,” said the former coach. “At the end of your career they start to use age against you.” (8:05)

(Listen to the John Madden segment live weekday mornings at 8:15 on KCBS All News 740 AM/106.9 FM.)

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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