The concussion discussion: Gore OK to play

And the final verdict is: Frank Gore does not have a concussion. But that took some discussion to sort out Thursday in 49erland, where Gore began the day with a "bad" headache late in the morning but was saying "I feel pretty good right now" by the end of the day.

But for most of the Thursday, everybody stood slightly confused about the status of San Francisco's Pro Bowl running back – particularly Gore himself – who missed practice Wednesday and again Thursday with what the team described as an upper neck strain.

But in the locker room late Thursday morning before practice, Gore complained of having a rather severe headache, and said he believed it was the result of a concussion that he sustained when he crashed helmets with Arizona's Chike Okeafor in the frantic final minute of San Francisco's 29-24 loss to the Cardinals on Monday night.

That left his status somewhat in doubt as the day progressed and Gore watched from the sidelines as the 49ers conducted their afternoon practice session.

Coach Mike Singletary set the matter straight after practice.

"Frank Gore is a football player," Singletary said. "He does not know what a concussion is. He has no idea. I don't even know what a concussion is."

"But, no, in all seriousness," Singletary continued, "Frank has a neck strain and it might feel like a concussion, but I talked to Fergie (team trainer Jeff Ferguson), who is one of the finest trainers in the country, and he does not have a concussion. I'm not a doctor, but I know when I hear concussion and I know what a concussion is when I hear it. He does not have a concussion. It's as simple as that."

Gore understands what a concussion is, too. He last sustained one in the second half of a November 2006 game against Detroit. Gore set a career high with 159 yards rushing in that game, a 19-13 victory, despite sitting out the fourth quarter with his injury. He returned the next week to set a new career high with 212 yards rushing against Seattle.

Gore said late Thursday afternoon that it was he who was mistaken about having a concussion.

"My neck was hurting and I just thought I had one," Gore said. "I watched the film … It was a pretty good hit. I kind of had my neck in the wrong position. Instead of going flush-up with him, I kind of had my shoulder and my neck towards his helmet and it kind of got the best of me. I was just kind of out of for a little bit, but I'll be fine.

Gore ranks third in the NFL with 1,045 yards from scrimmage. He's the NFL's sixth-leading rusher with 728 yards on 159 carries, a 4.6 average, and he also leads the 49ers in receptions with 33 catches for 317 yards.

Gore's yardage total represents 37 percent of San Francisco's total offense, and the 49ers would have a difficult time replacing him, since the rest of San Francisco's running backs have combined for just 46 rushing yards this season.

But Gore says he expects to be ready for Sunday's game against the St. Louis Rams.

"I'll be alright," Gore said. "I'll be ready to practice (Friday) and run around. I'll be fine."

Singletary is counting on it. When asked what adjustments the 49ers might make Sunday if Gore can't play, Singletary responded, "In all honesty, I don't want to go there. To me, he is going to play. I don't want to go into any other scenarios because he is going to play. There has been nothing to me that points differently than that."

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