Garcia in uniform, but is held back to begin camp
A simple inconvenience such as a bulging disk in his back wasn't about to keep Jeff Garcia out of the opening day of 49ers training camp. A week after being injured during a workout with his trainer in Los Angeles, Garcia was on the field in uniform Friday morning as the Niners began summer camp at their Santa Clara headquarters. "I'm chomping at the bit to get out there with the team to get in the swim of things," Garcia said, "and do everything possible to get ready to win football games."
But the Niners took it slow with their three-time Pro Bowl quarterback. He did not participate in full passing and team drills, instead being limited to short passes to backs and tight ends.
"I thought he did some good things," coach Dennis Erickson said. "We held him back a little bit. We will again this afternoon, then we'll see where he's at. He may be able to go full-go tomorrow."
Garcia isn't expecting that to happen until Sunday or Monday, saying he'd be patient and that "doctors know best." But after regaining stabilization in his lower back after six days of rehabilitation, Garcia said, "As far as I'm concerned, I'm ready to get back in the mix. It's hard for me to just sit on the sidelines and watch."
Garcia didn't display the usual zip and accuracy with the throws he did make, but he said that should return as he starts taking more snaps and gets his timing back.
WITH GARCIA OUT, backup Tim Rattay and youngsters Brandon Doman and Ken Dorsey ran the offense in team drills. All had their shining moments. As expected, Rattay looked smooth and comfortable in the pocket and second-year player Doman looked technically ahead of Dorsey as far as running the offense.
Dorsey, criticized for a weak arm in some pre-draft evaluations, displayed a definite ability to air it out. He even overthrew receiver Terrell Owens on a fly pattern after Owens had gotten behind the secondary in team drills.
Later during practice, Rattay hit Owens in stride on a similar pattern to the other side of field - displaying both the arm and experience to get the job done in Garcia's place.
NEW DIGS, OLD DIGS: For the first time, the 49ers are conducting training camp at their year-round complex in Santa Clara. The team conducted training camp the previous five years on the University of the Pacific campus in Stockton.
"It's a lot different, as far as mentally," running back Kevan Barlow said. "It's like a regular practice, but it's training camp. You're here at your home. When you go to Stockton, it feels more like a military camp. But back here, it's more relaxed."
'BACKERS IN PURSUIT: Jamie Winborn looked ready to seek and destroy throughout practice, putting his pads into ball-carriers often during team drills. The third-year linebacker, returning from a knee injury that forced him out most of last season, looked as quick and vicious - and definitely as hungry - as he was before the injury. ... Fourth-year linebacker Julian Peterson hasn't changed much from the big-play performer he became last year. Peterson, coming off his first Pro Bowl season, ended Friday's morning session by stepping in front of a Dorsey pass and returning the interception for a touchdown, where he then celebrated with a few defensive teammates to end team drills.