Gore, Whitner replacements make big plays

Gore, Whitner replacements make big plays
September 25, 2011, 9:51 pm
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CINCINNATI -- Safety Donte Whitner left the game in the first quarter with a hip contusion. Running back Frank Gore sustained a right ankle sprain in the second quarter but remained in the game without much success.The 49ers got key contributions Sunday from their backups -- Reggie Smith and Kendall Hunter -- in the team's 13-8 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.It was another rough game for Gore, who gained just 42 yards on 17 carries. His fourth-quarter fumble led to the Bengals kicking a field goal for a 6-3 lead.Hunter, however, replaced Gore for most of the next drive and scored the game's only touchdown on a 7-yard run. Hunter finished with 26 yards on nine carries.

Gore played all but three of the 49ers' first-half offensive plays but saw considerable action on the sideline in the second half with Hunter getting the most action thus far of his rookie season. Coach Jim Harbaugh said Gore was removed because of the injury."I kind of tweaked and I couldn't go the way I wanted to," Gore said. "Yeah, I couldn't be myself. Some of the runs, I couldn't make the cut I wanted to make. Hopefully, I get better this week."When asked if he'd be able to play next week against the Philadelphia Eagles, Gore answered, "I can't tell until tomorrow. See how I'm feeling."Whitner sustained his hip injury when he landed hard while going for a third-down pass on the first drive of the game. He did not return to action."It's just a minor injury that a lot of guys get in this league. I expect to be back next week," Whitner said.When asked if there was a thought about returning to the game, Whitner said, "There was until I couldn't handle the pain. But I'll be ready. It's not that serious."With Whitner on the sideline, Reggie Smith entered at safety in nickel situations. His diving interception with 1:45 remaining all but clinched the 49ers' victory.