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Frank Gore Maintains Work Ethic

Posted Jul 30, 2012

Greg Roman dialed up a tried and true play for the very first team period of Sunday’s opening padded training camp practice: An inside hand-off to San Francisco 49ers all-time rushing leader Frank Gore.

No surprise, it worked.

It’s a sight most 49ers fans are accustomed to seeing, and a play Roman used to his advantage in his first season as San Francisco’s offensive coordinator.

First, mauling left guard Mike Iupati pulls to his right looking to demolish any defender in sight. Behind him, fullback Bruce Miller kicks out the defensive end, followed by the Pro Bowl running back tucking his head down to follow his 331-pound guard through the hole.

Gore did just that, and picked up a solid gain.

“I’m just happy to be back out there period,” Gore said on Monday. “The first play was a good call. We ran the ball and its fun to be back out there.”

Gore carried the load often in 2011, picking up 1,211 rushing yards for the league’s eighth-best rushing attack. He might not get 282 carries like he did last season, but Gore is fine with sharing the workload with San Francisco’s talented backfield that now includes Brandon Jacobs and LaMichael James.

“It’s great,” Gore said of the 49ers’ added backfield depth through free agency and the draft. “You can learn from each one of them. So that’s a great thing for all of us. We have fun out there.”

Jim Harbaugh doesn’t see Gore having a problem with the team adding Jacobs and James.

“It’s not a matter of being a ball-hog,” Harbaugh said. “Frank likes to work. He likes to get as much work as he can get.

“In fact, he’s back on his routine. He’s here at 6:15 on the elliptical getting a sweat just like he does in the regular season. It’s not just how many reps he gets or how many times he gets the balls; he’s creative in finding ways to work during the day.”

It’s no surprise San Francisco’s all-time rushing leader (7,625 yards) likes having the football in his hands. But what might shock some people is how far the 29-year-old running back is willing to go to put in the necessary work for success on Sundays.

At 6:15 in the morning, Gore starts up his first training camp “practice” of the day. Used to the demands of two-a-day camp practices, Gore has utilized his own “double days,” over the past two seasons ever since training camp practices were augmented due to the collective bargaining agreement.

Gore rides an elliptical machine for 30 minutes and then lifts weights under the watch of 49ers strength and conditioning coach Mark Uyeyama. Teammates like Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown have joined the franchise’s leading rusher, too.

“I can look at that like it’s a first practice,” Gore said.

Such examples of Gore’s leadership and desire to improve are not lost on the 49ers head man.

“I’ve seen a laser-like focus from Frank,” Harbaugh said. “As far as on the practice field, (it’s the) same Frank, same demanding, intense, enthusiastic guy on the field. He wants to play, wants to work, wants to continually get better.”

Gore knows the perception of running backs declining at, or around the age of 30, but doesn’t take much credence from that line of thinking.

To him, longevity has more to do with training than anything else.

“I train hard. I feel as long as you train, you’ll be fine in this sport,” said the 49ers running back who’s reached the 1,000-yard mark five times and has been named to three Pro Bowls. “I went home, trained really hard and a good time here training with Coach Uey. As long as you train, you should be fine.”

Feeling like he’s in top shape before his eighth NFL season, Gore isn’t worried about a decline in his workload. If anything, he appreciates what the team’s newfound depth at running back truly means.

“That makes our team better,” Gore reasoned. “When you see a bunch of good, whatever position, receivers, running backs, tight ends – that lets you know how good your team is getting. I’m cool with it.”

It’s not like Gore hasn’t competed for playing time in his football life. The proud Miami Hurricane earned his collegiate reps while competing against three future NFL running backs (Clinton Portis, Willis McGahee and Najeh Davenport.)

Gore feels secure in his role, and, at evaluating who will block for him at right guard. Asked about converted tackle Alex Boone’s progress to this point with the first-team offense, Gore said it was early in camp, but that he’d get a good feel for Boone and newly-signed guard Leonard Davis by the end of camp.

However, Harbaugh has a good inclination of Davis’ talents so far.

“Good to real good right now,” Harbaugh said of the three-time Pro Bowl lineman, who signed with the team prior to camp. “Technique looks outstanding. Doesn’t look like there’s any rust there.”

As for Gore, rust is never an issue, not when the 5-foot-9, 217-pound runner keeps pushing himself before each season.

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