League sources told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter on Sunday that the talks are going slowly and the sides remain far apart. According to the sources, Gore is getting "very frustrated," but Harbaugh dismissed the notion that Gore is unhappy with negotiations, calling it "water-cooler talk."
"No, I don't sense unhappiness in Frank," Harbaugh said in a conference call on the heels of a 17-3 exhibition victory over the Oakland Raiders on Saturday night. "... Reports, conversations, talking points, things you're asking me, it all is and sounds like water-cooler talk to me. I'm not interested in it, in the water-cooler talk.
"I don't think there's any substance to the things you're asking me and the examples that you're citing. We'll deal with Frank man-to-man and won't listen to the water-cooler talk, so to speak, and deal with Frank and his agent," Harbaugh said. "Hopefully soon there's a deal that's fair for Frank and the 49ers. I'm looking forward to that and our organization is."
The 28-year-old Gore said last week he hopes to get a new long-term deal from the Niners before the Sept. 11 season opener against Seattle.
He missed the final five games last season with a fractured right hip sustained in a Monday night game at Arizona on Nov. 29, but insists he is fully healthy now. He avoided surgery after doctors told him he likely could return to form with rehabilitation.
Gore begins the year third on the franchise career rushing list. He needs 931 yards to be No. 1, but has said that's not his top priority for a franchise that hasn't reached the playoffs or had a winning season since 2002.
Gore, who held out for the first four days of training camp, said last week he hasn't received any word from the team on a potential extension. He spent several minutes chatting with general manager Trent Baalke at the start of Tuesday's practice.
Gore certainly will seek a contract comparable to the $43 million, five-year deal running back DeAngelo Williams -- 20 days older than San Francisco's star -- recently received from the Carolina Panthers. That includes $21 million guaranteed. Williams was sidelined for 10 games last year with a sprained right foot.
On the eve of the 2010 opener, Davis signed a five-year extension worth $37 million overall, including $34 million guaranteed -- making him the highest-paid tight end in NFL history. In May 2010, Willis received a $50 million, five-year contract extension that takes him through the 2016 season and includes $29 million in guaranteed money. He earns $10 million per season.
"I hope they do (reward me)," Gore said last week. "If they don't, I'll become a free agent."
Gore ran for 853 yards and three touchdowns in his sixth NFL season and caught 46 passes for 452 yards and two TDs. Gore's 24 100-yard rushing games are the most in 49ers history.
Also Sunday, Harbaugh said San Francisco would consider bringing in a punter this week if Andy Lee's injured right hip limits him heading into Saturday's preseason game against the Texans.
"I don't think it'll be a long-term issue," Harbaugh said. "I don't know how long it will take to get right. If he can't punt this week or would be limited in the game, we'd definitely have to consider bringing in a punter this week."
Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.