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Posted: Friday July 15, 2011 2:10PM ; Updated: Friday July 15, 2011 2:22PM

Frank Gore looks forward to playing for Harbaugh, competition at RB

Story Highlights

Gore says new head coach Jim Harbaugh will try to loosen the box this season

He’s not at at all intimidated by the 49ers drafting a RB in the fourth round

Gore got a boost in credibility when mentioned in a Lil’ Wayne song

By Jonathan Jones, SI.com

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Frank Gore
A two-time Pro Bowler, Frank Gore led the NFC in rushing in 2006.
Robert Galbraith/REUTERS

Frank Gore has been one of the most consistent backs in the league since he entered the NFL in 2005. But the closest his San Francisco 49ers have come to the playoffs was last year when they went 6-10, just a game behind NFC West champ Seattle. Now Gore has a new coach in Jim Harbaugh and is recovering from his 2010 season-ending hip injury. He spoke with SI.com's Jonathan Jones about the offensive-minded Harbaugh, his reaction to the James Harrison rant and how Terrelle Pryor looks in workouts.

SI.com: What are your initial impressions of new head coach Jim Harbaugh and how do you think he will benefit you?

Gore: Talking to him, you can tell that he's a very smart man. He told me that before I left to make sure that I'm in great shape after the lockout because he'll be counting on me this year. He also told me the way he's going to use me and show the whole world that I'm the best back in the league.

SI.com: How will he be able to do that?

Gore: It's not that my running style will change. He's just going to get me catching the ball more and getting me a lot of space. He'll be doing a lot of different things instead of the eight or nine men in the box. He's just trying to get the box loosened up for me.

SI.com: The writing was on the walls for Singletary's firing. What were your thoughts on your coach for the previous two seasons being shown the door?

Gore: In the league you got to win, you know? I love him and the attitude but you have to win. And I understand that. I think with our coach now, just going over little stuff on all sides of the ball, I think a lot of teams will a tough time defending us after just listening to what Harbaugh has talked about. He knows offense and I think that'll help us a lot. He played in the league. He was one of the best quarterbacks in the league at his time so he knows what he's talking about.

SI.com: How's your hip doing and do you think you'll be back to your 2009 form when you posted some of your best career numbers?

Gore: I feel great I've been working very hard. I've been taking one day at a time with my trainers with my therapy people. I'll be fine. I'll probably be a little nervous when I first touch the field. But being scared to move or make cuts or do anything? Nah I'll be great.

SI.com: The 49ers drafted Oklahoma State running back Kendall Hunter in the fourth round. What did that pick tell you and do you feel any pressure heading into training camp?

Gore: They let me know like they always do. I don't put nothing past no man who ever played the game of football. It let me know that I have to come in and prepare to work and I'm going to do that. I know we also need a backup if we don't bring Brian Westbrook back. And Kendall is a similar style guy and has a similar style of play (to Westbrook). But I'm not scared of any kind of competition. If I ever was, I would have never went to Miami where there are running backs everywhere. I'm not scared of any man.

SI.com: How much truth was there in James Harrison's most recent rant?

Gore: Hold up, what happened? I haven't heard anything about that.

SI.com: Well he called Roger Goodell a devil and a puppet. He said he wouldn't piss on him if he were on fire. And he called out Ben Roethlisberger to stop trying to act like Peyton Manning and said Rashard Mendenhall is a fumble machine.

Gore: I have no comments to that. He's a great defensive player but I've got no comments to that. He had his ups and downs and took his fines.

SI.com: How does it make you feel when defensive players call out offensive players?

Gore: Defensive guys don't really understand. It's totally different for offense. Defensive guys are convinced they know us but they just don't understand. Quarterbacks have so much that they have to read and adjust to. They have to look at everybody on the defense. It's totally different for the offense.

SI.com: The team has two quarterbacks in Alex Smith and Troy Smith, but in the past couple seasons neither has really shined. Do the 49ers need a Hall-of-Fame caliber QB in order to make it to the playoffs for the first time since 2002?

Gore: I just think that getting on the same page and everybody going out and playing ball. Alex is our quarterback and I think Alex can do it and I know he has a lot of talent. His career has had some ups and downs. Like last year, if he had never got hurt he would have had a great year. If he can just come out and play football with all the talent we have, we'll be fine.

SI.com: Because of the lockout, you've had more time to do...

Gore: To get better. To spend more time with my trainer in Miami who I feel very comfortable with to get me ready for the season whenever the season starts.

SI.com: You worked out with Terrelle Pryor recently. What did you see out of the guy and how do you think he'll fare in the NFL?

Gore: One thing I know being around him the first time working out with him, I know that every team likes a guy who's going to try their best and work very hard. He works very, very hard. I've seen him out there by himself throwing drop backs 100 yards. He wants to do everything right and if he does that, I think he'll be fine.

SI.com: Lil Wayne recently dropped a new mixtape, but in 2007 Lil Wayne mentioned you in his mixtape song "Get High, Screw Da World." What did that do for your street cred?

Gore: I didn't hear it at first but then a lot of people starting calling my phone saying, 'Aw Lil' Wayne talking about you on his new song.' I got the CD and I heard it. I was real surprised. It let me know that a lot of people see what I do out there. It's real big.

SI.com: The U is obviously known for its swag, but Al Golden doesn't really embody what some would consider that "U swag." What's your take on him taking over the Miami job?

Gore: You can't really say that. As long as he brings discipline and let them guys play ball. Don't have them up under pressure and scared to play and make mistakes. There's a lot of talent. I feel that he'll do a good job. I go back to us, some of the things on the offensive side of the ball used to be tight just because Singletary was so tough on us. He didn't know, if he just let us play ball we knew what to do and that's how we have success. As long as he let those guys at the U be themselves, we'll be back.

Q&A WITH MINNESOTA VIKINGS WR SIDNEY RICE

 
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