Frank Gore and Adrian Peterson are among the NFL's best role models for running backs looking to overcome career-threatening knee injuries.

They are also the 49ers' and Minnesota Vikings' workhorses and regardless of how much they play in Sunday night's exhibition game at Candlestick Park they are an inspiration to 49ers rookie Marcus Lattimore.

Lattimore who's rehabilitating from a three-ligament tear called it "definitely inspirational and motivating" to watch Peterson last season. The Vikings star returned from a December 2011 knee injury to rush for a league-high 2097 yards and win his first NFL MVP award.

Lattimore has never had any contact with Peterson "but hopefully I get a chance to speak to him after the game." Meanwhile Lattimore has learned a lot from Gore through his work ethic and "just by watching him."
Gore's history of overcoming his anterior cruciate ligament tears in college at Miami also helped fueled Peterson's road to recovery last year.

"To come back from a severe injury and to perform at a high level you don't see many guys that do that and do it with the same confidence" Peterson said in a recent phone interview.

Peterson and Gore don't know each other on a personal basis -- "I don't talk to other guys in the NFL just my teammates" Gore said -- but their mutual respect is strong.

"I've loved his running style" Peterson said of Gore. "He's a physical back so smooth and a north-south guy. What I love most is his attitude. He hits the hole and is the grinding back you want."

Gore returned the compliment saying of Peterson: "I love his game. You can tell how hard he trains and how much he loves it."

Peterson will make his exhibition debut against the 49ers setting the tone for what he hopes will be a 2500-yard rushing total this season.

"I didn't mean to cause too much of a ruckus" Peterson said of that goal. "It's cool. I've set the bar high for myself and the guys in front of me."

Three games into last season the 49ers limited Peterson to a season-low average of 3.4 yards per carry (25 attempts 86 yards) in the Vikings' 24-13 win.

"My body really got broken in that game" Peterson said.

Peterson's body got a more serious test in 2012 training camp. After practice he had a few bowls of seafood gumbo then his eyes began to itch and throat began to swell. A Vikings trainer promptly treated the previously unknown shellfish allergy using an EpiPen to inject Peterson's right thigh with a dose of epinephrine.