Frank Gore not slowed by wrist brace

SANTA CLARA -- Frank Gore wore a light brace around his left wrist Tuesday, the result of a stiff-arm he delivered to a tough St. Louis Rams defense over the weekend.

Not to worry, Gore insisted. "I could play right now,'' he said.

There is no indication that the injury is significant and Gore was healthy enough to rack up season-high 23 carries against the Rams. Still, his aches and pains, though, are going to get extra scrutiny at a time when his backup job seems up for grabs.

Jim Harbaugh dropped the latest hint Tuesday second-round pick LaMichael James could get his speedy feet wet soon, perhaps Sunday against the Miami Dolphins at Candlestick Park. Speaking on his weekly KNBR radio show, the 49ers coach said James has "worked hard for an opportunity" and said the rookie's debut is "something that's definitely a possibility."

With No. 2 running back Kendall Hunter out for the season, the 49ers turned Brandon Jacobs against the Rams and the veteran chipped in with four carries for 6 yards.

James could offer more of a game-breaking threat, but Gore said echoed the team's sentiment that the kid still has some learning to do. Gore is doing what he can to get the kid up to speed -- which in this case means getting him to slow down.

Gore said James runs at full-tilt all the time, a no-no in the NFL where running lanes are rare and precious.

"In college, there's a big space. But not here. He has a tough time with that,'' Gore said. "I told him, 'It's not how fast you are. It's about patience and how fast you can get through it.' I told him that he had to let things develop."

There's also the matter of pass protection. James acknowledged Tuesday that he was rarely assigned blitz pickup duty while at Oregon (where he was too busy rushing for 1,805 yards last year). Gore noted that learning how to pass protect is actually two skills -- how to deliver the block and knowing whom to block in the first place.

James said he's trying.

"Obviously, I'm not 230 pounds but I can feel like I can get the job done if I'm scrappy enough,'' the 5-foot-9, 195-pounder said.

James said he hasn't been told whether he'll play Sunday. Until then, he's willing to help however he can, even if that means serving on the scout team during practice.

And if the bell rings this weekend?

"I feel like I can go out there and help the team,'' James said. "Hopefully, I can light a spark."

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