SANTA CLARA -- Running back Frank Gore walked without a limp Monday after playing just 22 snaps in the 49ers' 27-20 victory over the New York Giants.As Gore left the 49ers' practice facility, he told CSNBayArea.com he felt fine and did not expect to miss any playing time with a bruised right knee. The 49ers return to action Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals at Candlestick Park.The 49ers appeared to make it through the game Sunday against the Giants without any serious injuries. Linebacker Patrick Willis sustained banged-up ribs, but is not expected to miss any time.Gore appeared to sustain his injury late in the first half when he landed hard on his knee while Giants defensive lineman Jason Pierre-Paul tackled him after a 1-yard gain. Gore returned for one more play at the end of the first half and another play in the third quarter.Gore said running backs coach Tom Rathman did not want him on the field thinking about the injury. For the first time since Gore became the featured running back in 2006, the 49ers feel confident in their backup running backs."You just feel like right now that we have a stable of backs," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "We got Frank Gore. We got Kendall Hunter. We got fresh legs in Anthony Dixon. This bodes really well for our football team."
SANTA CLARA – The 49ers’ biggest free-agent acquisition on defense and one of the team’s first-round draft picks play the same position.
Coach Kyle Shanahan said he is holding off on thinking about how everything is going to play out this season at the linebacker position.
“I really try not to envision it too hard because I see a lot of good players there,” Shanahan said Tuesday during the 49ers’ first week of organized team activities.
The 49ers awarded weakside linebacker Malcolm Smith guaranteed money as an unrestricted free agent totaling approximately $12 million. Then, on the first day of the draft, the 49ers’ No. 3 rated prospect experienced a free fall, and the club traded into the back end of the first round to select him.
While Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster has been sidelined through the offseason program as he recovers from shoulder injury, he figures to compete with Smith for the starting job. Foster will also learn middle linebacker, where NaVorro Bowman has earned first-team All-Pro honors in four seasons.
Bowman looks to be nearly all the way back from a torn Achilles that limited him to just four games last season.
“You don’t know what’s going to happen,” Shanahan said. “Seeing Bow out here and how healthy he’s been, knowing we’ve added some good free agents, and the way the draft worked out, having a linebacker we had ranked very highly fall to us at the end of the first round. We got a lot better pretty fast.
“When you ask me how it’s going to play out, I’m not sure. It’s a good problem to have. It’s something you’d like to have any every position. There’s going to be a very good player who’s not out there all the time. That’s not a bad thing. That makes the two guys who are out there go a lot harder and play better. It makes special teams better and it allowed you to survive injuries, which almost always happen.”
Bowman’s vision for the upcoming season includes him retaining his role in the middle of the 49ers’ defense.
"I won't be on the sideline, I'll tell you that right now,” Bowman said.
Bowman said he was not fazed with the 49ers selected Foster in the first round. Foster is likely considered the heir apparent to Bowman.
Shanahan called Bowman after the selection of Foster was made, but Bowman said he did not need to speak with the coach about why the selection was made.
“I wasn’t expecting it,” Bowman said of the phone call, “but it was good to hear from him, to see that he had something to say or an idea of what he wanted to get across to me.
“But we haven’t talked about it. I did that on purpose. It doesn’t matter to me. I’ll compete with anyone, whether he’s 21 or 35. It doesn’t matter. I’m a guy who’s going to give my best effort and have full confidence in my abilities to play this game. I know how much I study this game. I know how good I am and that’s what was going to bring back here.
“It’s always a competition. There’s always someone trying to take your spot. As a player, if you keep that in mind, you’ll always put the work in that’s needed.”
SANTA CLARA -- For the first time since Bryant Young retired following the 2007 season, the 49ers have placed his old number back into service.
Linebacker Dekoda Watson was issued No. 97 for the team’s organized team activities this week.
Young was a four-time Pro Bowl selection and eight-time winner of the Len Eshmont Award as the 49ers’ most inspirational and courageous player. No 49ers player has worn No. 97 in the past nine seasons or offseasons.
Rookie defensive lineman Solomon Thomas is now wearing No. 94 after being issued No. 96 for the rookie minicamp. Linebacker Reuben Foster is wearing No. 56.
Rookie defensive tackle D.J. Jones now wearing No. 96. Cornerback Rashard Robinson switched back to No. 33 after an earlier change to No. 26. Running back Kapri Bibbs is now 26. Rookie running back Joe Williams is No. 32 after wearing No. 33 at the NFLPA Rookie Premiere in Los Angeles over the weekend. Veteran running back Tim Hightower is wearing No. 22.