- Associated Press - Saturday, November 5, 2011

SANTA CLARA, CALIF. (AP) - Frank Gore gains his yards in so many ways. He runs over defenders, fakes them out or carries them along for the ride as he grinds first downs for the San Francisco 49ers.

Ask around and people are quick to praise Gore’s tremendous vision, his uncanny knack for knowing where a hole will be well before the play unfolds.

It amazes quarterback Alex Smith and coach Jim Harbaugh. The rest of the 49ers often watch Gore in awe.

Gore promised for months that he could still run with the best of them, a bold statement considering he’s 28 and coming back from serious injury.

“I know I can play football and, you know, I try my best to go out there and do the best I can,” Gore said this week. “I just see whatever goes on. I just look at the defense and I know where I can go before the play even starts. That’s God, God blessed me with that.”

An ideal combination of natural talent and instincts, for sure.

Gore had plenty of motivation to prove he could still play. And not just because a fractured right hip halted his 2010 season last November with five games left. Not because he wanted a hefty new deal before San Francisco’s season kicked off in September.

He wanted to win at last.

Gore prides himself in his preparation, and felt so good when he arrived at training camp healthy and ready that he insisted he was 22 again and as fresh as a rookie.

Gore got that coveted new contract, rewarded with a $21 million, three-year extension. Nobody would argue he has earned it.

Four straight games with 125 or more yards, four straight games with a touchdown run for the 49ers (6-1). Gore certainly seems headed for a third career Pro Bowl.

He makes big plays by carefully reading the defense to determine his best path. He’s tough for defenses to bring down.

“My take is that’s something that those men crawl out of the crib understanding and knowing how to do,” Harbaugh said. “It’s an instinct that sets them apart from everybody else who’s blessed with strength, and speed, and running ability. There’s an instinct and a vision that they possess that they’ve been blessed from mom, dad, and God to have.”

It helps to have a solid support system.

Gore is finally receiving the kind of steady blocking from an improving offensive line he needs to pile up yards every Sunday.

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