SANTA CLARA, Calif. — These are supposed to be the dog days of NFL training camp, but San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore must not have received the memo.
Gore is having a blast in the summer heat, learning new offensive coordinator Mike Martz's high-voltage scheme. What's more, he's just happy that the 2007 season is behind him.
"It's very fun,” Gore said after Wednesday morning's practice. "Last year was tough on the field and also off the field. I'm a stronger man, especially with accepting and dealing with the passing of my mom.”
A year ago, Gore still had a cast on his right hand protecting a bone he broke on the second day of training camp. He didn't play a single down during the exhibition season.
Things only got worse.
Four days before the 49ers' Week 2 game against the St. Louis Rams, Gore's mother, Liz, died at 46 after a long battle with kidney disease. After watching her go to dialysis since his junior year in high school, her death hit Gore extremely hard.
On the field, there was more bad news.
A nagging ankle injury plagued Gore for most of the season and cost him one game. As the losses mounted and the 49ers offense continued to rank at the bottom of the NFL charts, Gore's frustration grew.
"It was a tough year, man, a very tough year,” Gore said.
This year, though, could be a big turnaround for him.