Assessing injuries as KC looms

RAVING ABOUT RATTAY: Erickson big fan of backup QB

What would San Francisco's offense look like without Pro Bowl stars Jeff Garcia, Terrell Owens, Jeremy Newberry and Garrison Hearst? Everybody got a look Wednesday morning at 49ers training camp.

All four starters missed Wednesday morning's padded practice due to various ailments. Like Garcia, Owens missed practice for the second consecutive day. Owens watched from the sidelines, resting his injured right groin.

Owens was joined there by Hearst, who also has an injured right groin, and Newberry, who continues to nurse an ankle injury he says will be with him the entire season.

Coach Dennis Erickson has ruled Garcia out for Saturday's exhibition opener at Kansas City, and it's possible that Owens won't play against the Chiefs, either, though Erickson says his injury is more a "day-by-day thing" and the receiver has not yet been ruled out. Newberry also hasn't been ruled out yet, though it appears unlikely he will play. Hearst's injury appears to be the mildest of the four, though he's not expected to see much – if any – time against the Chiefs.

THE DAMAGED DOZEN: In addition to Garcia, Owens, Newberry and Hearst, eight other 49ers missed practice Wednesday: TE Mark Anelli (fractured collarbone), OL Jerome Davis (left ankle), DE Jim Flanigan (right leg), OL Kyle Kosier (right ankle), LB Saleem Rasheed (left hamstring), DL Josh Shaw (right knee), FB Paul Smith (right hip) and OL Milford Stephenson (lower back).

OT Derrick Deese (left ankle) and DT Bryant Young (left ankle/right thigh) both were limited in practice and 12 other players practiced to the tolerance of their injuries.

Erickson said several of the names listed above won't be making the nearly four-hour airplane ride to Kansas City for Saturday's exhibition opener against the Chiefs.

"A lot of the guys that are hurt and can't play, we will leave behind to rehab and not put them on a plane for that particular amount of time," Erickson said.

ASCENDING ADAMS: Anthony Adams progress in camp has been rapid and on the edge of remarkable. The second-round draft pick has climbed ahead of all the other candidates at right defensive tackle, and Erickson announced that Adams would be a starter in his first NFL game Friday against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Flanigan, who has missed most of training camp with calf problems, still is listed ahead of Adams on the depth chart. But Adams, who continues to grasp the system and use his compact build to get low and gain leverage at the line of scrimmage, will be given every opportunity to stay in the starting lineup if he shows that he can hold up against NFL competition.

And, as far as opportunities go, Adams will get plenty against the Chiefs.

"Anthony might never get off the field," said Erickson, who indicated Adams probably will play "at least" through the first half. "He will play a lot."

RAVING ABOUT RATTAY: With Garcia out, backup Tim Rattay will start at quarterback against the Chiefs, and the 49ers are perfectly comfortable with that, since Rattay now is entering his fourth year in the Niners system.

Erickson has been particularly impressed with Rattay since the coach joined the 49ers in February.

"I'm a big Tim Rattay fan," he said. "I'm really impressed with him. It is hard to find any negatives other than he hasn't played. He's got a tremendous arm. He gets rid of the football. He's a very good athlete. He understands what is going on. He is really bright and understands this offense. He just hasn't played."

That will change Saturday and during the rest of the week in practice.

QB ROTATION: Rattay is scheduled to play through the first quarter against the Chiefs, "maybe four or five series," Erickson said.

The reins then will be handed over to Brandon Doman, who will play through part of the third quarter. Rookie Ken Dorsey is scheduled to play the rest of the game.

"We need to take a look at both (No. 3) candidates," Erickson said. "And this is good for Tim to get the opportunity in this game to work with that first group for a little bit."

AND NOW AT CENTER: It looks as though Dwayne Ledford's conversion from guard to center is going well. Erickson said if the Chiefs game were today, Ledford would start at center. Don't expect there to be any change in that decision come Saturday.

THIRD-DOWN ATTENTION: The Niners spent a large portion of their team drills working on third-down situations. They led the NFL in converting third downs on offense last year, but were dead last on defense in preventing opponents from doing the same.

Erickson then huddled his team at the end of practice and spent more time discussing the importance of such situations.

"That is key," Erickson said. "Get off the football field on defense and keep drives going on offense. That is what we were talking about."

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