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January 31, 2013

Gore is quietly 49ers MVP

NEW ORLEANS — Seems like everybody asking questions of the 49ers at Super Bowl XLVII wants to focus on Colin Kaepernick and the read option, or maybe on coach Jim Harbaugh matching up against his brother.

But the story that maybe best embodies San Francisco’s struggle to get back to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1995 is that of running back Frank Gore.

Gore arrived as a third-round pick from Miami in 2005. (The 49ers could have taken Ryan Moats, but unbelievably they left him for the Eagles to grab a dozen slots later.) Gore’s selection was derided at the time because he’d torn both ACLs playing for the Hurricanes. The 49ers went 4-12 his first season. He finally experienced a winning record and a playoff game in his seventh season.

En route to becoming San Francisco’s all-time leading rusher (8,839 yards on 1,911 carries), Gore has endured serious injuries to both shoulders and one hip. Yet in 2012, Gore ran 258 times for 1,214 yards and eight touchdowns. He has started every game Harbaugh has coached for the 49ers.

Monday, someone asked Gore about the identity of his team.

“Physical and tough,” he said. “It’s hard to break us.”

That’s also pretty much the way his teammates describe Gore.

“We always credit Frank with the tough yards,” fullback Bruce Miller said Monday. “He doesn’t get the easy runs. He gets downhill, up the middle, three, four yards a carry — that’s what Frank does for us. He just continues to move the chains and keep the football in our possession, which is why we’re here.”

Miller said Gore’s work ethic, which has allowed him to come back from so many setbacks, “is inspirational ... He pushes everyone to be a better football player.”

Miller knows what this opportunity means to Gore, who turns 30 in May.

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