Niners getting back Gore after short holdout

Finally, some good news about a top 49ers veteran who's been absent from training camp. That status no longer will apply to running back Frank Gore, whose half-hearted holdout will end when he reports to the team Monday. The Niners confirmed late Sunday that Gore has decided to return, and none too soon for an offense that has conspicuously missed his presence so far this summer.


It always seemed a bit out of character for Gore to miss practice time with the team as a negotiating ploy, which almost surely was the brainchild of his agent Drew Rosenhaus, who never met a contract maneuver he didn't like. Gore will return to the field with his teammates Tuesday after missing the first four days and first three practices of summer camp. The 49ers aren't scheduled to practice Monday.

Gore is in the final year of his contract with the 49ers and, at age 28, is looking for some insurance for his future. He's due $2.9 million in base salary this year and a has a non-guaranteed $2 million roster bonus clause included in his current deal.

The 49ers had little reaction to Gore's short holdout. General manager Trent Baalke indicated Saturday that the team had other pressing issues to deal with and was willing to wait out Gore, saying that the positive side of his holdout "is the young backs are getting a lot of work. The only thing we can do is move forward and get the other guys ready to play. … The one thing we know about Frank is he loves to play football."

That love – which has become well known around the 49ers during Gore's six years with the team as one of San Francisco's most dedicated players – obviously kept Gore from staying away any longer even though he's apparently no closer to the contract extension he's seeking. Coach Jim Harbaugh said the team will negotiate in good faith with Gore and "earnestly" look at extending his contract beyond this season.

The return of Gore will add some juice to training camp practices and provide a leader-by-example the 49ers are currently missing in an offensive backfield that the past three days has featured rookie quarterback Colin Kaepernick, second-year running back Anthony Dixon and rookie running back Kendall Hunter working with the first unit.

The 49ers also need to get Gore up to speed with Harbaugh's new offensive system, since Gore once again figures to be the main component of San Francisco's offense as a rusher and receiver out of the backfield. Gore has been the unmitigated star of the 49ers offense since his arrival as a third-round draft pick in 2005, leading the team in rushing in each of the past six seasons.

Gore was on his way to a fifth consecutive 1,000-yard season last year before he fractured his hip in Week 12 against Arizona and missed San Francisco's final five games. He still finished as the 49ers' leading rusher with 853 yards and was third on the team with 46 receptions.

Rosenhaus said via Twitter in May that Gore is "100% healthy and fully recovered from his hip injury. He's never looked better!" Gore did not need surgery on the hip and was medically cleared to return to full workouts on Feb. 28. But he did not participate in player-organized workouts in June at San Jose State, failing to get a head start on Harbaugh's new playbook like several of his teammates did.

Gore's a fast learner who figures to quickly make up for lost time, and the 49ers need his veteran presence in an offense that has been practicing without presumed starting quarterback Alex Smith and No. 1 wide receiver Michael Crabtree. Smith, who signed a one-year deal with the team Friday, can't practice until Thursday due to new CBA rules. Crabtree could miss all of training camp with an undisclosed foot injury.

Whether or not 2011 becomes a contract season for Gore, he'll enter San Francisco's September opener needing 931 yards on the ground to become the 49ers' all-time leading rusher. The two-time Pro Bowler enters this year with 6,414 career rushing yards and his 8,697 yards from scrimmage ranks fourth in team history. Gore also ranks 14th among San Francisco's all-time leaders with 270 career receptions.


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