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Gore's Fumbles Worry 49ers

October 08, 2006|From the Associated Press

SANTA CLARA — Frank Gore's first season as the San Francisco 49ers' starting running back is off to a rousing start -- except for four plays.

Gore is second in the NFL with 460 yards from scrimmage -- 331 rushing and 129 receiving -- in the 49ers' first four games. He has been speedy, durable and hard to tackle, erasing any doubts about his worthiness to take the job of Kevan Barlow, who was traded to the New York Jets.

Unfortunately, Gore also has fumbled four times -- once in each of the first four games for the 49ers (1-3), who play host to the Oakland Raiders today. Two of his fumbles were at the opponents' goal lines, and one was returned 98 yards for a touchdown.

"It's not a pleasant thing to talk about each week," 49ers Coach Mike Nolan said. "It's uncharacteristic of Frank, but it's happened four weeks in a row."

Gore's slippery hands are a damper on what should be the best time in the second-year pro's career. The stocky, 5-foot-9 back has answered the scouts and personnel executives who let him slip to the third round of the 2005 draft, wondering whether his rebuilt knees could hold up to an NFL pounding.

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