Running back Frank Gore acknowledged today that he is indeed frustrated by the status of contract negotiations with the 49ers. But he said if he and the 49ers fail to agree on a contract extension, he plans to play out the season and become a free agent in March. Gore said he wanted to finish his career with the 49ers, who drafted him in the third round in 2005, but was prepared to move on if he doesn't get a deal he thinks is fair.
"If it doesn't happen, then I'm going to have to go out there and show everybody that I'm healthy and that I can be the Frank Gore I've always been," he said. "If I have to test the market, that's what I'll have to do."
On Sunday, coach Jim Harbaugh dismissed as "water-cooler talk" two national reports that said that Gore was upset over stalled negotiations. One report called the situation volatile and that Gore could soon request a trade.
That did not appear to be Gore's intent. He spoke twice about playing out his contract - he has a year remaining - and also said he was "going to come to work and be here for my teammates and try to do the best for me." Asked directly whether he would request a trade, he said he had no comment. "That's up to the team and my agent," he said. "If they want to trade me, that's what it is. I don't have no comment on that."
Asked about injured safety Reggie Smith (knee) today, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said he's still very much in the mix at safety. In fact, Fangio said there were five safeties the team thought highly of. Can you pick out the prominent name that's missing?
"We feel good with (Donte) Whitner, him (Smith), (Dashon) Goldson, (Madieu) Williams, and (C.J.) Spillman," Fangio said. 'We feel like we've got five safeties there that can play in the NFL. Some of them have great special teams value over the others, so if we have to keep four, that will be a hard decision. If we keep five, I think they will all be different pieces that we will use during the season."
The 49ers signed punter Sam Paulescu on Monday. Andy Lee (hip) was in uniform and walking around without a limp at the start of practice. And while his injury his not expected to be long term, Paulescu likely will handle punting duties this week.
The team released two players, quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, who was the third 49ers quarterback to play Saturday night, and kicker Fabrizio Scaccia. Sacramento State's McCleod Bethel-Thompson is now the fourth quarterback on the roster.
I, for one, am hoping Paulescu gets a chance to punt -- and hit -- Saturday against Houston. See below.
-- Matt Barrows