49ers expect Frank Gore (ankle) to play

SAN FRANCISCO -- 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.

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