SANTA CLARA -- Running back Frank Gore, the NFL's 10th-leading rusher entering the final week of the regular season, feels much better physically than a year ago, he said.
"I feel stronger toward the end now than I did last year," Gore said on Wednesday. "I had nicks and bruises. Now I feel still fresh. I feel good."
Gore credits his fresh body -- relatively speaking, of course -- to backups Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James averaging more than six rushing attempts per game. He has also seen a smaller workload during the week in practices, he said.
Gore has rushed for 1,146 yards, the sixth time in his past seven seasons he has eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark. He is averaging 4.8 yards per rushing attempt as he adjusts to a new running style with Colin Kaepernick at quarterback.
"We do more different things with Kap, as far as running the ball different," Gore said. "So I have to just be more patient with it. (I) don't know if I'm going to get it with the read-option game.
"You read the same thing. You read the same people. Some plays you don't know whether he's going to keep it or not."
On those plays in which Gore lines up behind Kaepernick in the "pistol" formation, Gore said he can't be as aggressive in hitting the hole because Kaepernick is reading the defensive end and might pull the ball from Gore and keep it himself on any given run play.
Statistically, Gore has not been as successful since the change at quarterback. In the six games in which Kaepernick took over as the starter, Gore has carried 98 times for 393 yards (4.0 average) and two touchdowns. In the first nine games with Alex Smith starting, Gore carried 140 times for 753 yards (5.4 average) and five touchdowns.