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Gore shines, then praises coach for 49ers' transformation

By Simon Evans

ATLANTA (Reuters) - Frank Gore scored the winning touchdown in the San Francisco 49ers 28-24 NFC Championship win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday and immediately praised coach Jim Harbaugh for turning around the franchise.

Gore was drafted by the 49ers in 2005 during a period when one of the National Football League's most successful franchises was enduring some of its leanest years, having gone 2-14 in the previous campaign.

The five-times Super Bowl champions had losing records in five of the next six seasons before Harbaugh took over a 6-10 team in 2011 and led them to conference championship games in each of his first two seasons.

"Its been a long eight years, we have been struggling and struggling with a lot of the same guys in the locker room and we finally got the right guys in front of us, to lead us," Gore said after the 49ers erased a 17-0 deficit for the win.

"We have the right coaches, coach Harbaugh and his staff are great together ... when you get everyone together you can go a long way."

With the host Falcons leading 24-14 at halftime, Gore said Harbaugh told the team they had the ability to turn the playoff contest around.

"We are built for this type of game, when we came in here, we didn't have our head down. They told us what we had to take care of one thing at a time, 'offense have to go back out and strike and defense you have to make plays,'" said Gore, who had two unanswered touchdowns in the second half.

"We are tough, it is hard to break us. We aren't going to give up. We will keep fighting into the fourth quarter and until the game (clock) hits double zero."

The build-up to the game had been dominated by the question of how top-seeded Atlanta would cope with the running ability of 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, and Gore said that gave him an inkling he would get a chance to shine.

"I knew when I heard them saying all week 'We've got to stop Kap, stop Kap' that I was going to get a lot of opportunities," said Gore. "The offensive line did a great job and I fought."

(Editing by Frank Pingue)

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