Frank Gore finds putting the ball on the ground twice in two weeks as unacceptable, and he did something about it every day this week. The 49ers top back used a drill where the football is tied to a cable that is yanked on from every which direction so that he could concentrate on securing the football.
"It was something I used to do a lot last year," said Gore. "I have dropped the ball twice in two weeks and that's been on my mind. I have to play smarter. When I'm trying to get extra yards, I have to keep the ball in tight. So, I just went back to my old drill."
Following Friday's final practice for Sunday's home contest against the Lions, Gore said he's feeling good.
"We had a great week of practice and I'm ready for kickoff," said Gore. "We need to start fast this week. That's what we want, versus trying to come from behind like last week."
Gore isn't exactly sure of what to expect out of the Lions. Last week Seattle sold out to prevent him from having a big day in the run game. It worked with Gore ending the day with 61 yards on 19 carries. The 49ers Pro Bowler hopes that last week's aerial assault will also draw some attention.
"People have been coming in and focusing in on me and the running game because the last couple of years, that's been the main thing we've been able to do. I have been thinking about what they are going to come in and do. Are they going to try to stop me, or sit back and play the pass? Our quarterbacks and receivers did a great job last week of making plays, so we'll see on Sunday."
Gore takes a lot of pride in his rushing stats, but even more so in getting W's.
"I want to run the ball. I want my rushing yards," admitted Gore. "Any running back wants to run it and get rushing yards, but as long as we are winning, everyone will be happy. As long as we are winning, it's all okay. And eventually, somebody will have to respect the pass and I'll come back and do my thing on the ground."
Gore is hardly staying idle though while he bides his time for a big day on the ground. He's been active in the passing attack over the last two weeks with nine catches for 93 yards, and a crusher when it comes to staying in and picking up a blitz.
"In this game, if you want to be one of the top guys, you've got to do all three phases – run, catch and block. I take pride in blocking. A lot of backs who everybody talks about don't do a great job in that category. I'm going to try my best to do everything I can to get this team to win a game."
**More Notes from Friday's Practice:
**Cornerback Donald Strickland had a full week of practice, but he is questionable on the team's injury report. Head coach Mike Nolan said the veteran defender has some soreness in his knee, so he's just not certain if he'll be able to go. It will be a game-time decision.
The 49ers are already without their third top corner in Shawntae Spencer, who was ruled out earlier this week with a knee injury. Nolan still does not know anything definitive in terms of the duration of Spencer's injury, but he said "it doesn't look as good."
Linebackers Takeo Spikes and Jeff Ulbrich will continue to share time at the TED linebacker spot, a situation that Nolan believes strengthens the defense since it allows both guys to stay fresh.
Linebacker Ahmad Brooks, who was claimed at the 53-man cut, has been working as a backup at both inside linebacker positions. Although Nolan said he's got "good instincts," Brooks has been inactive the last two weeks.
"He's coming along," said Nolan. "He's got to learn the defense. He missed, obviously, the entire training camp. When we call something, he's not sure of what it is yet."
In the event of an injury at tackle to either Barry Sims or Joe Staley, Adam Snyder or Chilo Rachal would be used as their backup.
The offensive captain for this Sunday's game is J.T. O'Sullivan. Safety Michael Lewis will serve as the defensive captain, with Joe Nedney handling the duties for the special teams.