Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press

Running back Frank Gore says he's using his age – 30 – as his latest motivator to remain as the 49ers' leading rusher this season.

Naysayers and snubs are good motivators for 49ers' Gore

Published: Friday, Jun. 14, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 3C
Last Modified: Tuesday, Sep. 3, 2013 - 2:11 pm

SANTA CLARA – 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 NFL draft, and it takes Gore less than five seconds to recite the list. After all, he's been replaying it in his head since April 23, 2005, the day the 49ers used a third-round pick on the talented but injury-riddled runner from 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 Thursday about how he's always used naysayers 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 the age at which NFL teams start looking for replacements. For example, the Denver Broncos on Thursday released their starting tailback the past 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 25.

Gore has been held out of the 49ers' spring practices, which ends today. He said he's not injured but is following the instruction of head trainer Jeff Ferguson. The 49ers are likely trying to preserve Gore, who led the team in rushing for the eighth consecutive season in 2012-13 and who played in 19 games, the most of his career.

Lattimore also has been held back.

As did Gore, he suffered severe injuries to his knees in back-to-back seasons in college. Last October, he tore three ligaments in his right knee and has been restricted to weight room exercises and moderate sprinting with the 49ers.

Coach Jim Harbaugh has hinted that Lattimore might not play in 2013 so that he'll be at full strength next season.

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," Gore said. "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.

Read Matthew Barrows' blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers and listen for his reports Tuesdays on ESPN Radio 1320. Follow him on Twitter @mattbarrows.

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