Frank Gore doesn’t much believe in being overworked.
While the 49ers went to great lengths to expand their depth chart behind Gore, the team’s leading rusher with 1,211 yards last season, it is not in the prideful 29-year-old’s job description or genetic fiber to hand the ball off.
He is not only leading by example at practice, Gore is giving younger running backs like rookie LaMichael James an example to follow. Gore greets the sunrise spending 30 minutes every morning on the elliptical trainer and then spends an intense weight-training session with conditioning coach Mark Uyeyama. He takes the approach that his morning workout is the equivalent of a first practice, harkening back to his rookie year, when the 49ers had two-a-day training camp sessions.
“It’s not a matter of being a ballhog,” coach Jim Harbaugh said. “Frank likes to work. He likes as much work as he can get. In fact, he is back on his routine of being here at 6:15 a.m., on the elliptical getting his sweat just like he does in the regular season. So, it’s not just how many reps he gets or how many times he gets the ball He is creative in finding ways to work during the day.”
Gore was focused in part on getting a new contract last offseason while the NFL locked out its players. He was rewarded with a new deal and reported to camp with his feet churning, adapting to a new offense in which he was again the focal point. Since the 49ers were bounced from the playoffs in the NFC Championship Game, they signed veteran Brandon Jacobs and drafted James to go along with holdover backup Kendall Hunter.
Gore said he is learning from his new teammates and embracing the competition.
“I’m just happy to be back out there, period,” Gore said, “put the pads back on. The first day was yesterday, the first play was a good play we called — giving me the ball.”
Gore isn’t conceding anything. He has been through the competition at running back before, reminding media Monday that he could’ve gone to any school in the country but chose Miami (Fla.), which already had a trove of talent at tailback — Clinton Portis, Willis McGahee, Najeh Davenport and Jarrett Payton.
He is still training with winning in mind and said the additional talent at all positions just means the team is more competitive.
“You’ve got to look at it — Brandon Jacobs was a starter for a pretty good team before, Kendall Hunter is a great player. LaMichael is a good football player,” Gore said. “You say the names, everybody notices they’re pretty talent[ed].”
“That don’t bother me. I know I’m going to be ready.”