NAPA ? Over the past three seasons, 49ers running back Frank Gore has rushed for 3,833 yards and caught a team-high 157 passes.
That?s the easy part of his job, Gore said Tuesday.
?In this league, anybody can run the ball and catch the ball,? Gore said. ?Coach (Tom Rathman) really coaches us up. He tells us, ?I want tough guys.?
Gore demonstrated his toughness within moments of the opening bell of the 49ers? first of four practices with the Raiders. In a one-on-one blitz pickup drill, Gore locked up with Raiders fourth-year linebacker Ricky Brown and planted him on his back. Just a few moments later, Gore easily disposed of fifth-player player Kirk Morrison.
Uncharacteristically, Gore kept going at Morrison after the play?s conclusion. He had to be held back, and coach Mike Singletary had some words with his best offensive player.
?I told Frank I?ll put him on the bus if he does that again,? Singletary said. ?But he did a nice job.?
Gore was in a feisty mood, all right. And Rathman liked what he saw.
?If you don?t have the willingness and the mean streak, it?s going to be tough to excel at that job as a pass blocker,? Rathman said. ?And we?re trying to develop that here.?
Gore?s prowess as a playmaker is well-known, but he also takes a lot of pleasure in performing the duties that do not show up on his stat line.
?Frank is a guy who gets excited about what he?s doing,? Singletary said. ?His heart, his emotion and his enthusiasm are what this game is all about.?
Gore?s enthusiasm and knowledge of the game leads 49ers general manager Scot McCloughan to believe Gore could easily become a scout once his playing career is over. McCloughan said he would not think twice about hiring Gore as a talent evaluator.
And Gore said he continues to learn the finer points of the game from Rathman, who played on two Super Bowl champions and seven division winners in eight seasons with the 49ers.
?I think I have been a good blocker,? Gore said. ?But I didn?t know how easy it can be. It?s all about angles and small things. Coach Rathman has really helped us a lot.?
Gore said he was especially geared up for the beginning of practice Tuesday. He has not missed a day of practice this summer, but Singletary decided to hold him out of the 49ers? first exhibition game Friday against the Denver Broncos. Gore said he was eager to get his first shot at playing against another team ? even if it was just in practice.
?I love what I?m doing,? Gore said.
Gore said the blitz pickup drill is a one-on-one encounter that greatly favors the linebacker. After all, there are few blocking options available to the running backs during practice because of safety concerns.
?It?s tough,? he said. ?It?s more of a linebacker drill. You can?t cut. In a game you can mess with their head.?
Still, Gore did plenty of messing with the heads of the Raiders linebackers. Gore checks in at 5-foot-9, 217 pounds, while Brown weighs 235 and Morrison is listed at 240. Yet, Gore had manhandled the larger men. As Gore next lined up to face Raiders rookie linebacker David Nixon, Rathman pulled Gore out of the drill. He had seen enough.