Frank Gore, a first alternate in the Pro Bowl, will play in the annual all-star game after another NFC running back, the Rams Steven Jackson, dropped out with a back injury. Jackson had been bothered by his back during the last few weeks of the season. Gore had an ankle injury when the 49ers played the Dolphins in his home town last year. The Pro Bowl game will be the first time the University of Miami product has played a game in Miami as a professional.
"It's amazing. It's the first time that I will get to play in Miami since I left," said Gore. "Last year, I couldn't play because I was injured and now God blessed me to play this year. To be in the Pro Bowl, it means a lot. I felt that missing some games this season, and to still be able to make a special game like this is a great opportunity. All I can say is that it's a blessing."
The game will be played Jan. 31, a week before the Super Bowl, which is in the same city. There's also a chance that Gore could move higher on the NFC's depth chart. Because players who will be participating in the Super Bowl cannot play in the Pro Bowl, the Vikings Adrian Peterson could be forced to drop out. The Vikings' inclusion in the Super Bowl also would mean that 49ers defensive lineman Justin Smith would make the Pro Bowl. Tight end Vernon Davis, linebacker Patrick Willis and punter Andy Lee already are in the Pro Bowl. Players on the winning teams receive $45,000; those on the losing team get $22,500.
-- Matt Barrows