49ers player notes: Gore runs large vs. Lions
RB Frank Gore: Since he came into the NFL as San Francisco's third-round draft pick in 2005, Gore has averaged 120 yards rushing per game against the Lions, which ranks first among all NFL players over that span with a minimum of three games against the opponent. Gore has rushed for 360 yards and three touchdowns and also has 127 yards receiving in three games against Detroit. After his second consecutive 100-yard game last week against Tampa Bay, Gore now ranks ninth among the NFL's rushing leaders and fourth among the NFC's leaders with 400 yards. Gore now has a team-record 26 100-yard career games, and he stands 531 yards away from passing Joe Perry to become San Francisco's all-time leading rusher. Gore is a finalist this week for FedEx Ground NFL Player of the Week along with New England's Ben Jarvus Green-Ellis and Minnesota's Adrian Peterson. Gore won the award once before after rushing for 207 yards against Seattle in Week 2 of the 2009 season.
LB Patrick Willis: The fifth-year veteran was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for the first time in his distinguished career for his performance in last week's 48-3 drubbing of the Buccaneers, when Willis had a game-high 18 tackles while also knocking down a pass and recovering his second fumble of the season. The big effort moved Willis past NaVorro Bowman this week as San Francisco's leader in tackles with 57. Willis also ranks fourth on the team with four passes defensed. According to NFL gamebooks, Willis leads the NFL with 635 tackles since he entered the league as San Francisco's first-round draft pick in 2007. Willis is the first 49ers player since 2006 to win the NFC's weekly defensive honor.
CB Carlos Rogers: The seventh-year veteran is tied for the NFL lead with three interceptions after recording one each in San Francisco's past three games. His 31-yard return for a touchdown last week was the second interception Rogers has returned for a TD in his career. His first came against the Lions in 2007 when he returned a Jon Kitna pass 61 yards for a touchdown while a member of the Washington Redksins. Rogers is the first 49er to record an interception in three consecutive games since LB Takeo Spikes in 2008. Rogers also leads the 49ers this season with seven passes defensed.
QB Alex Smith: The seventh-year veteran ranks third in the NFL with a 104.1 passer rating behind only Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers (122.9) and New England's Tom Brady (109.5). Smith was named Samsung Next Level Player of the Week after finishing with a 127.2 passer rating against Tampa Bay, the second-best of Smith's career. Smith is one of only three NFL starting quarterbacks with one interception and his 0.8 interception percentage ranks second in the league. He ranks sixth in the NFL with a 65.9 completion percentage and sixth with a fourth-quarter passer rating of 108.3. His game QB ratings so far this season are 90.4, 99.1, 85.6, 112.1 and 127.2. Over his past 10 starts, Smith has 15 TD passes and just two interceptions and has rushed for one TD while compiling a passer rating of 99.8.
WR Josh Morgan: The fourth-year veteran was placed on the season-ending injured reserve list after undergoing surgery to repair a broken bone in his right leg. Screws were inserted during the procedure, coach Jim Harbaugh said. Morgan currently is San Francisco's leading receiver among wideouts with 15 receptions for 220 yards. He is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in 2012, but Harbaugh said this week that the 49ers have told Morgan they will make it a priority to have him back with the team. Harbaugh also said Morgan's spirits are good after his surgery. "He'll be back and have no doubts of that," Harbaugh said. "He's doing well and he'll be back soon and back around his teammates. Josh is a strong guy now, strong physically and also strong mentally. He's a tremendously hard worker and I have no doubts that, following the doctor's instructions and their plan, being disciplined not to overdo it, but also not to put any limitations on himself and do exactly what the medical team has in place. He'll bounce back just fine. We'll do everything for him that we possibly can because he's a 49er, a true 49er."
OLB Aldon Smith: The team's first-round draft pick recorded two sacks last week to increase his team-leading total to 3.5, and he was nominated this week for Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week honors. Smith ranks second among all NFL rookies in sacks to Denver's Von Miller, who has five
K David Akers: The 13th-year veteran leads the 49ers and ranks fifth among all NFL kickers with 46 points. Akers is 10 of 12 on field-goal attempts and has made all 16 of his PAT attempts since joining the 49ers this season. Akers set a career high in PAT attempts and made against the Lions in 2007, going 8 for 8 as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles.
CB Shawntae Spencer: The eight-year veteran could get more playing time this week, despite rookie Chris Culliver's fine game last week. At nearly 6-foot-2, Spencer might match up better against Lions star 6-5 wide receiver Calvin Johnson. "Number one, it becomes a health issue for Shawntae if he's ready or not," defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said Thursday. "Number two, just see how it goes from that point forward. Right off the bat, it's a health issue. If Shawntae is only 85 or 90 percent, then we definitely go with the healthy guy." Spencer, who has been hampered by a toe injury, had one of the better games of his career in a victory over the Lions in 2006, when he had two passes defensed and his first career game of recording a sack and forced fumble in the same contest.
NT Isaac Sopoaga : After missing last week's game with a staph infection, the eighth-year veteran is back in the 49ers locker room after missing all of last week with his ailment. Sopoaga has practiced with limitations this week. "I believe he'll be available to play, yes," Fangio said. "Right now, I haven't heard otherwise that he won't be."
G Mike Iupati: The second-year veteran came out of the Tampa Bay game with a knee injury and had a wrap around his knee and was limping in the locker room earlier this week. Iupati didn't practice Wednesday, but he returned to the practice field Thursday with a brace on his knee and is expected to be available to play against the Lions. "As far as Mike, Mike's going to be fine I believe," offensive coordinator Greg Roman said Thursday.
WR Braylon Edwards: The seventh-year veteran, who has been out since Week 2, said he's aiming for a post-bye comeback against his former team, Cleveland, on Oct. 30. Edwards is recovering from a surgical procedure on his knee and is walking without a limp. A Michigan native, Edwards showed up in the locker room with a Detroit Tigers hat and T-shirt on this week. He's an unabashed fan of the baseball team and its quest to succeed in the playoffs. Edwards said his grandmother Shirley Edwards was an assembly line worker for 35 years at General Motors before she retired in 2002.
TE Vernon Davis: The sixth-year veteran has caught 15 passes for 203 yards and three touchdowns since he talked to coach Jim Harbaugh about getting more opportunities for himself and the team's other playmakers back in September. Davis leads the 49ers with 22 catches for 263 yards and three touchdowns receiving and is on course to lead the team in all three categories for the third consecutive season. Davis had two touchdown receptions against the Bucs, the third multi-TD game of his career.
WR Brett Swain: The newest 49er signed a one-year contract with the team on Tuesday and is expected to play on special teams and serve as a No. 4 emergency receiver against the Lions. The 49ers signed Swain after a Tuesday workout that included several proven veteran wideouts. "We're fired up that Brett's here and we'll get him going as fast as we can and he can," Harbaugh said. "We had some really top-level guys here, and we just let them compete for the spot. We let the guys go out there and compete for it. Thought Brett stood out and was the best guy. What we're looking for now, how someone can help us now. Brett was that guy. The other thing is, coming from the Packers, they use a West Coast system. The terminology is fairly similar and he's already shown that he understands what we're doing."
NT Ricky Jean Francois: The third-year veteran received a game ball for his play against the Bucs, when in his first NFL start Francois made three tackles and helped stack up the middle and keep Bucs offensive linemen off 49ers linebackers.
WR Kerry Taylor: The 49ers signed the undrafted rookie to the team's practice squad this week. The nephew of former star Niners receiver John Taylor, Kerry Taylor originally signed as a free agent with the Packers before training camp began in July but was released following summer camp. He spent two weeks on the New England Patriots' practice squad in September before being released. A Packers source told NinersDigest that Taylor "kind of did everything, from gunner on punts to returning kickoffs and punts. He's just a guy. They had 10 wide receivers here (in training camp) and he was No. 10."
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