August 2, 2011MAIOCCO ARCHIVE
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SANTA CLARA -- Frank Gore was back Tuesday where he feels most comfortable.He was in the 49ers' meeting room. He was on the 49ers' practice field. And he was in the middle of everything -- just like a typical day of training camp for the seventh-year professional.Only this was no typical day for Gore. His teammates came to work on Thursday for the opening of training camp. And when his teammates hit the practice field for the fourth time, Gore was making his summer debut.Gore boarded a flight from Miami to San Francisco on Sunday after speaking with 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and getting some reassurances that the team needed him and his contract situation would be handled."He just told me, you know, that I don't have nothing to do with the offers and he would like me to be here, and I'm here," Gore said.Harbaugh sounded confident the 49ers' organization is committed to extending Gore's contract beyond this season. Harbaugh said he expects Gore to have a new deal "sooner than later." Gore enters the final year of a contract that is scheduled to pay him 2.9 million in base salary with another 2 million in a roster bonus. Gore was subject to 90,000 in fines for his holdout.
"We want Frank here. We want Frank happy, too," Harbaugh said. "At some point, it'll get resolved."Gore said he is pushing the worry over a contract out of his mind when he steps on the football field. Gore said he wants to play his entire career with the 49ers.RELATED: Frank Gore career stats
"Knowing I was going into my last year (of his contract) and I want to be a 49er forever, for my whole career, we (Gore and agent Drew Rosenhaus) talked about it and what I wanted to do," Gore said. "Things weren't going right. Me and my agent sat down and talked. That's what it was. But I'm happy to be back. I had a great practice and I feel good. I'm taking it one day at a time and just moving forward."If the contract happens, if it comes, it comes. I'm here to help the team."And there is little doubt that Gore did that through his mere presence. Gore is the No. 3 all-time rusher in 49ers history. His 6,414 yards rank him just 650 yards behind No. 2 Roger Craig. And he's just 930 yards from eclipsing Joe "The Jet" Perry's franchise record of 7,344 yards.Gore, 28, was the 49ers' leading rusher last season with 853 yards in 11 games. His season ended with a hairline fracture of his right hip. After rehabbing in Miami during the lockout, Gore said he has felt 100 percent for a while. He said he feels like a 22 year old -- and not like a player who has 1,641 touches (1,371 rush attempts and 270 receptions) in his career.
"Everybody is very excited to have Frank back," 49ers left tackle Joe Staley said. "The energy is up. We know when he's back there, he'll take care of business."Staley said Gore is the offensive line's best friend through his ability to take a small crease and turn it into big gains."He creates so many different things on his own," Staley said.Quarterback Alex Smith said last week that Gore would be able to quickly make up for lost time because of his unique football acumen.RELATED: 49ers camp report (82): Focus on running game
"He's one of the smartest football players I've been around," Smith said. "He picks up everything so fast. You'd love to have him here, obviously. But I think if there's somebody who can make the most of a short number of practices, it's him. The guy has an ability to pick things up quick. He has a great football IQ. On the field, he processes things very fast."Gore put on pads for his first practice and took the first-team snaps in the first 49ers' practice session that focused heavily on the run game. Harbaugh said the huddle even sounded different Tuesday with Gore present. Gore offered "tips and reminders," Harbaugh said, to just about every position group, helping along rookie quarterback Colin Kaepernick."What surprised me today is the quarterback, man," Gore said of Kaepernick. "Man, he's a rookie. He's looking real good. He gets in the huddle and he's making great reads. I told him, 'Man, you're doing a great job.' I know Alex is going to be back. I'm just happy to be back, you know? Happy to be back."And as Gore departed after his group session with reporters, he had one final thought."I want to tell my fans I'm sorry about the little holdup. I'm happy to be back."
August 2, 2011MAIOCCO ARCHIVE