SANTA CLARA -- Running back Frank Gore said earlier in the day that he felt fine.
And the 49ers' practice participation report on Thursday supported his claim. On the 49ers' first day of practice to prepare for their game Monday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Gore went through the entire practice, the club reported.
Last week, the 49ers did not list Gore with any injuries, either. But Sunday, he played just 39 of the team's 63 offensive plays. At times when he came off the field, he looked to be ailing. But when he had the football in his hands, he looked as good as ever.
Gore had just 10 rushes for 72 yards, including a 37-yard touchdown on the 49ers' first play of the second half. He carried just two more times in the 49ers' 21-19 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. A day later, coach Jim Harbaugh said Gore was "not 100 percent."Gore has experienced sprains to both ankles and a knee bruise this season. So, perhaps, the 49ers were trying to conserve Gore during the game against the Cardinals. However, the team's pass-heavy game plan backfired.Quarterback Alex Smith completed 18 of 37 passes for 175 yards against the Cardinals on Sunday. He was also sacked five times. Smith attempted a season-high 38 passes Nov. 20 against the Cardinals, but the 49ers also ran a season-high 87 offensive plays in that game.
So there appears to be no question that Gore will be healthy for the Monday night game against the Steelers. However, there are questions about linebacker Patrick Willis and left tackle Joe Staley.Willis has not started running at full speed after sustaining a right hamstring strain Dec. 4 against St. Louis. Staley has yet to be cleared for full participation after sustaining a concussion Sunday.Also, receiver Braylon Edwards (knee) and fullback Bruce Miller (knee) took part in limited practice Thursday.Meanwhile, the Steelers had four notable players sit out of practice Thursday due to injuries, including receiver quarterback Ben Roethlisbeerger (ankle) and safety Troy Polamalu (hamstring).49ERS PRACTICE REPORT
Did not participate: T Joe Staley (concussion), LB Patrick Willis (hamstring)
Limited participation: WR Braylon Edwards (knee), RB Bruce Miller (knee)STEELERS PRACTICE REPORT
Did not participate: LB Chris Carter (hamstring), T Marcus Gilbert (illness), S Troy Polamalu (hamstring), C Maurkice Pouncey (ankle), QB Ben Roethlisberger (ankle), WR Emmanuel Sanders (foot)
Limited participation: WR Arnaz Battle (hamstring), CB Curtis Brown (knee)
George Paton, one of the remaining possibilities for the 49ers’ general manager position, is reportedly on the Indianapolis Colts’ list of candidates to fill their vacancy, too.
The Colts have requested permission to speak with Paton, the assistant general manager of the Minnesota Vikings, Tom Pelissero of USA Today reported on Monday.
Paton is scheduled for a second interview with the 49ers on Friday, along with Atlanta offensive coordinator and San Francisco’s presumptive head coach, in Atlanta.
The Colts also requested permission to interview Seattle co-directors of player personnel Trent Kirchner and Scott Fitterer, USA Today reported. Kirchern and Fitterer also interviewed with the 49ers. Kirchner pulled his name from consideration, while the 49ers informed Fitterer he would not be asked back for a second interview.
The Colts fired general manager Ryan Grigson on Saturday. Owner Jim Irsay said Indianapolis’ vice president of football operations Jimmy Raye III would be a candidate. The 49ers also interviewed Raye, who was informed he would not be included in a second round of interviews.
Arizona vice president of player personnel Terry McDonough is the other known candidate for the 49ers’ general manager position that opened when the firing of Trent Baalke was announced at the conclusion of the team’s 2-14 season.
Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent. His uncertain status has led to speculation presumptive 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan will be interested in acquiring him in the offseason.
On Sunday, Cousins got a first-hand look at his former coach’s offense.
Cousins posted a photo on Instagram from the stands at the Georgia Dome, where the Atlanta Falcons and their high-octane offense blasted the Green Bay Packers, 44-21, in the NFC Championship game.
Cousins wrote the caption, “Watching two of the best in the world do what they do & taking notes to make it to this game next year -score a lot of points!”
Washington finished third in the NFC East and out of the playoffs with an 8-7-1 record.
Shanahan, the Falcons’ offensive coordinator, coached Cousins for the first two seasons of his NFL career with Washington on the staff of his father, Mike Shanahan. Cousins appeared in just eight games with four starts in 2012 and ’13.
Cousins' career has taken off in the past two seasons while starting all 32 regular-season games. He completed 67 percent of his passes this season with 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions and a passer rating of 97.2.
Washington placed the franchise tag on Cousins this season at nearly $20 million. He franchise tag is expected to be approximately $24 million in 2017.
If Washington places the non-exclusive franchise tag on Cousins, a team could sign him to an offer sheet at the cost of two first-round draft picks or negotiate a trade with Washington for a lesser amount.