Nolan disappointed in Gore's remarks after Niners loss

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Frank Gore says he was frustrated when he questioned whether his teammates really trust Jim Hostler, the San Francisco 49ers' first-year offensive coordinator.

Yet with losses piling up like tacklers on top of the Pro Bowl running back, Gore won't be the only person wondering about Hostler until the 49ers (2-4) get it together.

"I feel like we don't have the trust," Gore said Sunday after the 49ers' 33-15 loss to the New York Giants.

"We're not trusting each other. We're not trusting the coordinator. ... I just know that when we had Norv Turner, he had been doing it for a while. Whenever he said something, we wanted to do it. And now I feel that a lot of people, when coach Hoss or somebody calls something, it gets in the back of their heads, 'Is he calling the right play?' "

Though Gore's frustration after the 49ers' fourth straight defeat simply confirmed what many already suspected, he downplayed his comments Monday. Gore even pointed to the positive aspects of another tepid performance by an offense that kept the same scheme and most of the players employed by Turner to much greater effect last year.

"(Against the Giants) we ran the ball better than we did all year, and we passed the ball better," said Gore, who rushed for 88 yards on a sprained right ankle. "What hurt us were the (four) turnovers in the offense and the (13) penalties."

Trent Dilfer also thinks the 49ers should keep faith in their new play-caller. Though San Francisco couldn't stay with the Giants, the quarterback thought Hostler concocted a game plan that was his most aggressive and inventive of the season.

"He is a superstar football coach," the 14-year veteran declared. "I've been around this league, and ... I can promise you that Jim Hostler is prepared, smart and as diligent as any offensive coordinator I've ever been around. Unfortunately for him, he doesn't have the credibility to go through a failure period, and people say, 'Oh, that's all right.' "

But almost the entire season has been a failure period for the 49ers. San Francisco is last in the NFL in total offense and passing offense, whether Alex Smith or Dilfer is running the show.

Smith will work out Tuesday to test his separated right shoulder, but coach Mike Nolan hasn't chosen a starter for Sunday's home game against New Orleans.

Dilfer, Smith and Nolan remained firmly behind Hostler after the 49ers managed 267 yards -- just their second game with more than 200 -- while giving up six sacks and finishing just one scoring drive in the first 59½ minutes against the Giants.

"I totally disagree that there's a lack of trust in Hoss," Dilfer said. "I would partly agree that there's probably some lack of trust in one another, and that happens every single time that you go on a bad skid or you're not playing well offensively."

Gore led the NFC last season with a franchise-record 1,695 yards rushing, but he has been buried this season behind an often-inept offensive line. He's 10th in the NFC with just 394 yards and three touchdowns after six games, and his 4.0 yards per carry are a career low.

Nolan seemed disappointed by Gore's comments after learning of his star running back's displeasure Monday.

"Sure, I'd like to see guys stick together just a little bit more, no question," Nolan said. "But I also recognize the frustrations that competitors have. ... I believe when he says that, we're all looking for answers. Some people are pointing fingers, and some people are doing it internally by themselves, and some people are doing both."

Nolan saved his harshest words Monday for Dilfer, who went 23 of 38 for 209 yards. The veteran also threw two interceptions, botched a handoff and coughed up a fumble that was returned 75 yards for a score by Osi Umenyiora.

Nolan said the fumble was Dilfer's fault on that game-turning play early in the third quarter. Umenyiora was left unblocked to set up a quick, short pass. Dilfer was supposed to take a three-step drop, but didn't -- and such small mistakes become huge, he realized.

"I watched it probably 400 times on TiVo," Dilfer said. "That's the one that kept me up until 4 in the morning. I can't explain why that happened, except something instinctively didn't happen correctly."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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