Gore: 'I'm ready to play ball'

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Offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye said he's been one of the best workers on the team. Quarterbacks Shaun Hill and Alex Smith proclaimed he's in the best shape of his life.

And none of those statements are farfetched.

Spend five minutes watching a 49ers training camp practice, and it's evident that Frank Gore looks like he's ready for a monster season in 2009.

"I think he has eye of the tiger this year," Raye said after the first of two Saturday training camp practices. "From what I have seen, his work ethic has been outstanding. He's looking forward to a big year."

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Gore came into camp weighing 214 pounds, a few pounds under his playing weight from a season ago where he ran for 1,036 yards on 240 carries. The weight loss was a decision Gore made to help him reenact his 2006 season that saw him run for 1,695 yards and earn a Pro Bowl selection.

"The last two years I didn't finish the season as strong as I wanted to," he said. "I'm trying to get back to that 2006 year and I feel great."

Although the defense is not allowed to bring down the ball carriers at camp, Gore has routinely busted through the line for large gains. He's also working on improving his all-around game too. During Saturday's afternoon practice, Gore flattened defensive lineman Kentwan Balmer with a chip block at the line of scrimmage.

But it's not just a practice to Gore. To him, it's like a Sunday afternoon at Candlestick Park.

"Every time I'm on the field I visualize myself in the game," he said.

Throughout camp, several veterans have been given a practice off, but Gore isn't one of them.

"For me, the more reps, the more comfortable I will be. In the offseason I worked very hard (and) I'm ready to play ball," he said. "I like to get the reps in and that's why I go so hard."

PM Practice Particulars

During 7-on-7 work, Alex Smith almost was intercepted on a deep pass over the middle. The ball bounced off the hands of Dre'Bly and Vernon Davis was able to make the catch for a would-be touchdown.

The best play of the day occurred on a deep ball from Hill to Davis 30-plus yards down the field. It was easily one of the best catches of camp, as Davis beat Reggie Smith on a deep route and made a brilliant over-the-shoulder catch.

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