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August 18, 2009
Just another practice? Not to Frank Gore

The biggest hit of training camp was delivered today. But it didn't come in a team situation between the Raiders and 49ers and it wasn't given by defensive player. Instead, the blow came courtesy of Frank Gore during a pass-blocking drill when he absolutely leveled Ricky Brown, an outside linebacker and one of the better pass rushers on the Raiders. Gore, who's about 5-9, 215 pounds, put the 6-2, 235-pound Brown on his back.

To say that Gore was excited for today's morning practice would be like saying the Grand Canyon is kinda deep. Remember, he was held out of Friday's game against the Broncos, so today's scrimmage was in effect his preseason opener. After decking Brown, Gore did the same to linebacker Kirk Morrison, who is not exactly a scrub. His third opponent was going to be David Nixon, a slightly built rookie out of BYU. When running backs coach Tom Rathman saw that matchup, however, he pulled Gore out and put in someone who wasn't as lathered up. Nixon ought to send Rathman a thank-you note.

Afterward Mike Singletary joked that he told Gore he'd have to make him watch the rest of the practice from the team bus. "He did a nice job," Singletary said. "Frank is a guy - he gets excited about what he's doing, and to me, his heart and his emotion and his enthusiasm is what this game is all about." Gore, for his part, said he was merely trying to satisfy position coach Rathman, who is constantly harping on pass-blocking technique. Gore said he thought the drill actually favors the linebackers, who are both bigger and can get running starts. "I think it's a linebacker's drill," he said. "Because in a game you can (undercut) them. You can mess with their heads."

Gore's back-up, Glen Coffee, did well in the drill, though not as well as Gore. Rookies Kory Sheets, Brit Miller and Bill Rentmeester, however, struggled.

Shaun Hill looked sharp during 11 on 11 drills. Alex Smith was less so. Hill, who ran the first-team offense and mostly faced the Raiders' first-team defense, finished the morning session 12 of 14. One of those incompletions came when he spiked the ball during a two-minute drill. In that drill, Hill drove his team to the opposition 33 yard line, giving Joe Nedney a chance for a 51-yarder. It hit the left upright. Hill threw a deep ball to Vernon Davis that Davis caught over the shoulder (yes, you read that correctly) in front of safety Jerome Boyd. He also hooked up with Micheal Spurlock on a deep pass.

Smith was not as sharp Tuesday. He finished the morning 7 of 13. He also set up a long Nedney field goal - it went wide right - off the 2-minute drill, but the drive was not as fluid as Hill's. In fact, he targeted Glen Coffee on short passes on the first five snaps of the drive and netted only 15 yards. To be fair, a nice downfield pass to Arnaz Battle on the sixth play should have been hauled in by the receiver.

There were no fights during the morning session, a departure from last year's meeting between the teams. Singletary said he told his players not to fight. And yet ... "I cannot guarantee that it will stay that way (peaceful)," Singletary said. "But this morning I needed to see that. I wanted us to understand that ... we didn't come here to fight. We didn't come here for all the other things. We've got too much work to do and we're not good enough for that. But at the same time our guys will take care of themselves. And they will respond. I gave them permission to make sure that they take care of themselves and each other."

Speaking of fighting ... in case you're interested about the ongoing, in-house Raiders drama, coach Tom Cable said "nothing happened" regarding his alleged punch of a defensive assistant. The x-rays from the local hospital suggest something happened. ...

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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