Harbaugh expects RB Frank Gore to play vs. Eagles

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh expects running back Frank Gore to play this week at Philadelphia despite a sprained right ankle that limited him in Sunday's win at Cincinnati.

Harbaugh, whose 2-1 Niners lead the NFC West, is game-planning this week as if Gore will start against the Eagles. San Francisco is practicing in Youngstown, Ohio, to avoid a return trip to the West Coast before facing Philadelphia.

"Frank's status, in my mind right now, Frank is good to go," Harbaugh said in a conference call. "We'll plan, we'll scheme and prepare for this game with Frank, along with the rest of the players on this team."

Harbaugh said Gore was walking without a boot Monday and also referred to rookie Kendall Hunter as "the backup tailback" - leaving little question that Gore remains the guy, for now at least. Hunter ran 7 yards for the game's only touchdown with 3:59 left Sunday.

Gore received a new $21 million, three-year contract late last month.

While Harbaugh isn't ready to shake up a running game that ranks 29th in the NFL through the season's first three weeks, he might be headed for a change on the struggling offensive line.

Quarterback Alex Smith has been sacked 11 times over the past two games and sustained a concussion in a 27-24 Week 2 overtime loss to the Cowboys. Harbaugh said he is considering a change at right guard in place of Chilo Rachal before Sunday's game with the Eagles. Adam Snyder finished the game at right guard.

"To be determined," he said when asked about Rachal's role. "There's a competition there."

Harbaugh said he will keep his assessment of his struggling offensive line in-house.

"That's something we talk about as a unit, as a team. They hear from us coaches," Harbaugh said. "I don't feel inclined to have them read about it as well. We're working at it. The ballgame yesterday was a tough, hard fought, at times painful. Kind of like going to the dentist."

Harbaugh noted that he reviewed film and still believes Michael Crabtree stayed in bounds on a 10-yard catch in the end zone that was taken away in the third quarter of his team's 13-8 win over the Bengals. At the time, Harbaugh didn't have a chance to see a replay, otherwise he would have challenged the call.

He said the 49ers will make note of that play in their weekly report to the league office.

"I have not seen a definitive angle other than the coach's video that we've watched," Harbaugh said. "From the look of it, it looked like he was in bounds and never stepped out of bounds. It was a heck of a play - it was a fantastic play by Michael, fantastic play by Alex - at a part of the game when that touchdown was important. I would have loved to see it stick. They both deserved it."

Harbaugh is treating practice at Youngstown State like a destination training camp. He reminded his players that this should be considered a typical work week - just away from home.

"We've talked. It's not a vacation for us, in terms of where to go sightseeing," Harbaugh said.

Injured wide receiver Braylon Edwards, working his way back from right knee surgery, and fullback Moran Norris (left fibula injury) stayed in the Bay Area to rehabilitate their injuries.


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