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Tomsula: 49ers in contract talks with Gore, Crabtree

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INDIANAPOLIS -- A calmer, more comfortable Jim Tomsula broke a little news on Thursday.

The new San Francisco 49ers coach told reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine that the team has begun talking with both Frank Gore and Michael Crabtree about new contracts.

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Both players are set to become free agents, but general manager Trent Baalke said Wednesday that it was a priority for the Niners to re-sign their own talent. Tomsula agreed.

"Yeah. I mean that's going on right now," Tomsula said. "I mean, Frank Gore, we talk about all the things that he has -- you mentioned the leadership and the passion and all those things -- but let's not overlook that he is a prolific running back in the National Football League. I'm a big Frank Gore guy. I know those talks are ongoing now, starting this week along with our other free agents."

When Around The NFL asked Tomsula if he wanted Crabtree back, the coach said: "Absolutely."

"Those talks are happening this week," Tomsula said. "I don't have the checkbook, so I'm not in those particular conversations, but I do know that leaving San Francisco, heading to the airport the other day, that everything was lined up to talk to all of our people."

We hit Indy believing that Crabtree, specifically, wouldn't be back next season. His return still feels like a stretch, but it's possible that Tomsula -- in taking over for Jim Harbaugh -- has altered fate for more than a few free agents. That certainly seems to be the case for Mr. Gore.

Here's what else we learned from Tomsula:

1. Consider Thursday a personal victory for the coach. After his disastrous introductory news conference last month, Tomsula was far more comfortable in his own skin. People behind the scenes rave about Tomsula as an affable, genuine whirlwind, and we saw more of that at the combine.

"I didn't do a good job," Tomsula said of his January meeting with the media, adding that he's still "getting used" to sitting behind the mic. Harbaugh was a tough act to follow -- and nobody is asking him to morph into Walt Whitman before the press -- but Tomsula stressed that has no problem communicating with his players.

"When I'm up here, I have to watch my manners and watch my language and try to make sure that I'm nice and polite," said Tomsula. "That's what I've got to get better at."

2. With Justin Smith still pondering his playing future, Tomsula said he and the defensive end will "shoot the baloney" after the combine. The 49ers have said all offseason that they will give Smith as much time as he needs to decide on returning for a 15th season. "He's deserved the right to make decisions on his terms," Tomsula said. "He's had just an unbelievable career."

The latest Around The NFL Podcast breaks down RGIII's appointment as starter and Larry Fitzgerald's new deal with the Cardinals. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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