Frank Gore: runner, blocker, pass catcher ... mystic? Jim Harbaugh thinks so. Here's what he said about the 49ers tailback this morning on KNBR radio.
"The more I get to know Frank - I just love him so much," Harbaugh told hosts Brian Murphy and Paul McCaffrey. "He's a mystic, a mystical type of guy. He's got a connection to, a spiritual connection. He sees more than most of us do. A very deep guy, very special person, love him to death."
Harbaugh isn't the first member of the 49ers brass to point out Gore's savant-like qualities. Former coach Mike Nolan and former general manager Scot McCloughan have said similar things about Gore, who had an eyebrow-raising low Wonderlic score before the draft in 2005 but who has been one of the 49ers' most intelligent football players since they acquired him.
Both McCloughan and Nolan said that Gore also has an uncanny eye for which young players will succeed and which won't. McCloughan, in fact, said he would hire Gore as a scout after his playing career is over. (Gore once told me that will be a tough task for him because he doesn't like to fly; his scouting duties may have to be restricted to his native South Florida).
Of course, Gore isn't quitting his day job anytime soon. He ranks fourth in the NFL with 547 rushing yards. And while he doesn't have the break-away speed he had in 2006, the 30-year-old tailback leads the league in runs of 20 or more yards - seven. Oakland quarterback Terrelle Pryor (age 24) and Washington running back Alfred Morris, 24, are tied for second with five.
"He's one of those guys who are very inspirational - through his action and what he says," Harbaugh said. "But mostly what he does. He's one of those guys who can see things, can point them out. Has a great mind for football."
Also on KNBR, Harbaugh said he didn't think the injuries suffered by starters Donte Whitner (knee) and Eric Reid (ankle) were serious. "Nothing to alarm me, I don't think," he said. The 49ers will find out more during Wednesday's first full practice of the week.
-- Matt Barrows