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June 13, 2013
Gore's advice to Lattimore: Let the doubters fuel you

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Ronnie Brown, Cedric Benson, Cadillac Williams, J.J. Arrington and Eric Shelton.

Those are the five running backs taken ahead of Frank Gore in the 2005 draft, and it takes Gore less than five seconds to recite the list. After all, he's been been playing it over and over in his head since April 23, 2005, the day the 49ers used a third-round pick on the talented but injury-riddled runner at the University of Miami.

In fact, one of Gore's tips to rookie running back Marcus Lattimore, whom the 49ers took at the end of the fourth round, has been to compile his own list as motivation. "That's one thing I told Marcus," he said. "When you get your opportunity, you always compete with the guys (selected) in front of you. That was one of my goals."

Gore spoke openly Thursday about how he's used doubt to fuel his eight-season career, including what he considered a draft snub in 2005 and his recovery from a fractured hip in 2011. "I feel like every year it's something with me - that I've got to overcome something every year," he said.

This year's obstacle: the calendar.

Gore turned 30 last month and is now the age at which NFL teams start looking for replacements. For example, the Broncos on Thursday released their starting tailback the last two seasons, Willis McGahee, in an effort to get younger at the position. McGahee, 31, and Gore were teammates at Miami.

The 49ers, meanwhile, have a stable of young runners, including Lattimore, Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James, Anthony Dixon and Jewel Hampton. Of that group, Dixon is the oldest at age 25.

Gore has been held out of the 49ers' spring practices, which ends today. He said he's not injured but is rather following the instruction of head trainer Jeff Ferguson. The 49ers, who refuse to discuss injuries, likely are trying their best to preserve Gore, who led the team in rushing for the eighth straight season last year and who played in 19 games, the most of his career.

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Lattimore also has been held back. Like Gore, he suffered severe injuries to his knees in back to back seasons in college. In October, he tore three ligaments in his right knee and has been restricted to weight-room exercises and moderate sprinting so far with the 49ers. Jim Harbaugh has hinted that Lattimore might not play in 2013 so that he'll be at full strength next year.

While Lattimore, considered one of the most talented runners in the most recent draft, is a potential threat to Gore's job in coming seasons, Gore said there's been a natural connection between the two players.

"I'm behind him because I went through the same thing," Gore said. "Being one of the best backs at the school and getting drafted late in the rounds. I'm pulling for him. I think he'll be fine. He's a great kid, quiet. He does whatever coaches and (Ferguson) tell him to do. And I think he'll be fine."

His advice to Lattimore: Stay motivated and when he finally gets an opportunity, take it. Oh, and memorize this list: Giovani Bernard, Le'Veon Bell, Montee Ball, Eddie Lacy, Christine Michael, Knile Davis and Johnathan Franklin.

-- Matt Barrows



MATTHEW 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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