Every now and then Frank Gore likes to switch roles with the media. If reporters are standing around the locker room, he'll come up and canvass us about what we think of how he played or how the offense is looking. He's interested in outside opinions. Sometimes, he'll stop me in the locker room and ask how he looks. By that, he wants me to say whether I think he looks lighter or heavier than last season. (Answer: lighter). This happened today when Gore walked up to me and Maiocco.
"What do you think?" he said.
"About Frank Gore?" I said.
"No, about the offense."
I told him that the first half against the Bears is just about as well as I've seen the offense play since I've been covering the team.
Gore asked me how long I've been covering the team and I said since 2003. In hindsight, there was a game in 2003 in which Jeff Garcia and the 49ers beat Arizona 50-14. And last year's game in Arizona was a pretty decent offensive showing, too. But I could tell that Gore agreed with my assessment. He's said in the past that he felt as if a "black cloud" was hanging over him and the 49ers last season. This summer - and today in particularly - he seemed carefree and bouyant, chatting with everyone he passed in the locker room. It sort of symbolized how the team as a whole is feeling right now -- relieved that the offense finally has come together and eager to show it off in the regular season.
I asked Gore whether he was excited about playing the Dolphins this year in his home town. He said he wasn't even thinking about that. I pressed him a little - "Come on, you have to have at least thought about it..." - but he insisted he's not looking ahead this season, a mistake he may have made before the 2007 campaign. Gore said he thought he might play a little Friday against San Diego. Mike Nolan might have another idea. Nolan speaks at 3:45 p.m. today ...
David Baas has been cleared by team doctors to take part in practice. Baas will go through individual drills today and the plan is to gradually work his way into team scenarios over the next week and a half.
Keith Lewis is under the weather. He will not take part in the afternoon practice.
-- Matt Barrows