Gore, Willis as leaders are works in progress

Running back Frank Gore and linebacker Patrick Willis are two young guys who are turning into leaders in the 49ers’ locker room. But neither had much to say after the team’s loss to the Patriots on Sunday.

Running back Frank Gore and linebacker Patrick Willis are two young guys who are turning into leaders in the 49ers’ locker room. But neither had much to say after the team’s loss to the Patriots on Sunday.

They are young players, and figure to be a big part of the future of the team. Although it might not sound like a big deal, it’s important for leaders to talk after games — win or lose. (OK, especially, after losses.) Teammates look around and see who is standing up when things aren’t going well. They notice those things. Nobody wants to get the reputation as a front-runner — someone who’s only willing to talk when things are going well.

Both Willis and Gore spoke today in the 49ers’ locker room at their training facility in Santa Clara.

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Gore started speaking with the media after the game. He answered a couple questions before declaring he didn’t want to talk any more. This was a one-time occurrence. Gore was voted by the beat reporters as the winner of the Garry Niver Award last season for his professionalism in dealing with the media. He takes the game very seriously. He doesn’t let these losses just roll off his back. The fact he felt so bad after yesterday’s game was completely understandable.

Just minutes ago, he answered questions from the media for several minutes. Gore said he has confidence that things will get better. “Man, we’re going to be fine,” he said. “We just have to play as one.”

He said he likes to do different things in the offense, and especially liked the challenge of being split out wide with a cornerback covering him. Gore ran a perfect post route and scored a touchdown. It’s the first time in his career he caught a pass from a wide-receiver position.

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Willis declined to answer questions after the game. He also did not want to talk after the opening-game loss to the Cardinals. As Willis gets more mature he’ll learn that leaders speak up. They don’t pass the buck onto teammates to answer questions.

“It was just frustrating to know we should’ve won the game and we didn’t win the game,” Willis said today. “It should hurt after every loss. But this game right here hurt worse. . . . It was no offense to you all.”

Willis said the 49ers’ main problem in Sunday’s game was their attention to detail. Willis had an outstanding game against the Pats. He was credited with 18 tackles at the time of the game. In the coaches’ film review, Willis’ number was adjusted to 22 tackles (14 solo, 8 assists). Gore and Willis are two fantastic players.

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Today was a good day for both Gore and Willis. The fact they made themselves available to the media shows that it’s important to them to be true professionals and do things the right way.

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