Gore has plenty of incentive to play

SANTA CLARA — Twenty-two yards short of becoming the 49ers' first running back to gain 1,000 yards in three consecutive seasons, Frank Gore said Monday that he plans to practice this week in hopes of playing in Sunday's season finale against Washington.

But the milestone isn't Gore's only motivation.

Sunday's game also is an opportunity to renew a friendly rivalry with Redskins running back Clinton Portis, Gore's former teammate at the University of Miami.

"We talk to each other during the season," said Gore, who has missed the past two games because of a sprained left ankle injury. "We're so competitive. We always want to out-rush each other. He got me this year, but I'm going to try to come out this Sunday and out-perform him. If I do that and win, hey, it'll be a Happy New Year for me."

Competition aside, Gore noted that during his freshman season at Miami, Portis essentially served as his big brother. He helped him with the playbook, loaned him his car, etc.

"He used to look out for me," Gore said. "You know how other players would be (with) a young freshman coming in and playing right away, they probably wouldn't help him out or do anything for him. But he was different. He helped me out a whole lot."

49ers coach Mike Singletary said he wants Gore to get his 1,000th yard but only if the ankle is OK.

"Hopefully, he's healthy enough to go," Singletary said. "But if he can come back next year and get 2,000 (yards), that's even better. I'm good with (playing him), depending on where he's at."