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Gore, Peterson ready for Sunday showdown

SANTA CLARA – Frank Gore got so much attention from his two long touchdown runs last week that even he grew sick of it.

Now he knows how Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson must feel on Sundays and every day in between. Peterson even does commercials. His people call him “Purple Jesus” or “AD,” short for all day.

Gore watched the highlights of his TD runs of 79 and 80 yards enough times that San Francisco’s star running back finally turned the channel.



“I kinda got tired of watching the same thing over and over,” he said.

Gore went untouched all the way to the end zone on long runs twice in a win against Seattle, setting a new career-high with the 79-yard run then later topping it to help the 49ers to a 2-0 start. The performance earned him NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors.



Gore called the recognition a “blessing,” largely crediting his offensive line.

He didn’t need to show off his improved strength by barreling through the defense. Did anybody even get a finger on him?

“None of ’em,” Gore said with a grin.

For Peterson, it doesn’t seem to matter how many would-be tacklers touch him, he still plows through with a vengeance.

Come Sunday, the two will be on the same field for a showdown of sorts to see who can pile up the most yards, game-breaking plays, touchdowns and, most of all, keep his team unbeaten.

“I know he’s a great back but I really don’t try to focus on that,” Gore said. “I’m trying my best to go out there and be the best guy on the field, whatever it takes to get my team a win.”

Same goes for Peterson, who says he’s admired Gore since his college days at Miami but doesn’t want to make this into a competition between the two.

“It’s early, Week 3 we’re going into. It’s more than that to me,” Peterson said Wednesday. “Frank Gore, he’s dominating. I recognize talent and I recognize guys who run the ball hard. Frank Gore, that’s what he does.”

Gore’s outstanding game in Week 2 and this upcoming trip to face the Vikings and Peterson – arguably the NFL’s most dangerous and explosive running back – is generating all kinds of hype this week from Northern California to the Twin Cities.

A hot topic for so many reasons. They’re Nos. 1 and 2 in the NFC in rushing: Peterson with 272 yards on 40 carries and Gore at 237 yards on 38 rushes after his sensational day against the Seahawks. He wound up with 207 yards on 16 carries. Peterson has four touchdowns, Gore three.

Gore bounced back from a poor season debut Sept. 13 at Arizona in which he had 30 yards on 22 carries and the 49ers finished with only 21 rushing yards, a franchise-worst in a win.

On Sunday, he sprained his right ankle and didn’t even play most of the fourth quarter, needing only 5 yards to match the career best of 212 he set during his 2006 Pro Bowl season.

That’s the year Gore is trying to duplicate, having spent a rigorous offseason back in familiar territory at the University of Miami under the direction of Hurricanes strength coach Andreu Swasey. He’s been giving props to Swasey at every opportunity so far.

Gore called this the best training camp yet of his five-year NFL career. His intensity rubs off on others.

“I’m proud of him,” tight end Vernon Davis said. “I really appreciate having him on the field.”

Might Gore be in for a tough time against a stingy Minnesota defense?

“How can I say that, man?” he said.

The Vikings have been No. 1 in the NFL for rushing defense three years running, but have had their challenges the first two weeks.

“He’s a top, elite back in the league and we’re going to really have to be on our P’s and Q’s and watch a lot of film and make sure that we can get a lot of guys on him at all times,” Vikings linebacker Ben Leber said.

The 49ers feel the same way about defending Peterson, whose size, speed, field vision and ability to change directions make him a threat to break a big play each time he touches the ball. San Francisco has missed its share of tackles in the first two weeks, too.

In 26 career starts, Peterson has 17 100-yard rushing games – giving him a career average of 105.4 yards, joining Jim Brown as the only players with 2,000-plus career yards to average more than 100 a game.

“It is a tremendous opportunity for us defensively to see where we are,” 49ers coach Mike Singletary said. “He’s a guy that you have to contain him every play. We’re going to have our hands full. … Stopping Peterson is not about one guy, it’s about everybody doing their job.”

And Peterson is beyond eager for a big day. The only time he faced the Niners previously, as a rookie in 2007, he was held to just 3 yards on 14 carries at San Francisco – the worst day of his career.

In particular, he remembers relentless 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis.

“I felt like I was getting attacked by bees in that game,” Peterson said. “That’s a game that sticks in my mind constantly. That was the worst game in my career. I’m not taking it lightly. … I love Patrick Willis. I love the way he plays the game. He plays the game like me.”

Last week, Peterson tossed his shoes into the stands during the Vikings’ 27-13 victory at Detroit in which they rallied from an early 10-0 deficit, getting the go-ahead touchdown on Peterson’s 27-yard run midway through he third quarter.

“I like showing fans love,” Peterson said. “They show me a lot of respect, not all of them. Some of them don’t like me but there are some Detroit fans out there that really like my game and how I play.”

Gore, meanwhile, was so frustrated about his inability to run in Week 1 against the Cardinals that he called new offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye, waking him up at 2 a.m. afterward to talk things over.

During a joint practice with the Raiders last month at Oakland’s wine country training site, Gore had to be reined in by running backs coach Tom Rathman for going too hard in a hitting drill.

In the past, Raye said, he’s received similar calls from stars like Marcus Allen, Earl Campbell and Eric Dickerson.

“All the great ones that I’ve had, they have so much pride in their performance,” Raye said. “They’ve had restless nights. Basically his call was more reassuring him we’re going the right direction.”

With Gore leading the way, the 49ers sure believe that’s the case after a franchise-worst six straight losing seasons. In Minnesota, the Vikings know success will continue if they keep riding Peterson week after week.

– AP sportswriter Dave Campbell in Minneapolis contributed to this story.


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