WELCOME BACK: Starting tailback Garrison Hearst, who has been out of practice since the Aug. 9 preseason opener in Kansas City while nursing a left ankle and Achilles injury, returned to padded drills and received a rude greeting when he was sideswiped on a running play by rookie defensive tackle Anthony Adams. Even though this was a practice in shoulder pads and shorts, Adams completely blew up center Brock Gutierrez, sending both Gutierrez and Adams into the backfield, where Adams sent Hearst flying into the air before he landed hard. Hearst stayed on the ground momentarily, clutched his hurting leg, then walked gingerly during the remaining moments of practice. After a visit with trainers, it was determined he did not aggravate his injury.
SETTLING DOWN: Coach Dennis Erickson says he frequently speaks with young
players about staying under control in practice so unexpected hits such as the
one Hearst don't take place. "We talk to them all the time," Erickson said. "We
try to preach to all those young guys that the key is to stay on your feet. If
you stay on your feet, nobody is going to get hurt. We really haven't lost
anybody because of that. The key to that is staying up and we've done that
RUMPH RETURNS: A day after sending a chill through camp when he limped away
from practice grimacing, cornerback Mike Rump was back wearing shorts, cleats
and his red 24 jersey, though he did not participate in practice and won't,
Erickson said, until probably next week. Rumph has a mild groin strain, but said
he initially thought it was much worse when he was hurt Tuesday morning. "I've
really never been hurt before, even in college," Rumph said. "Just to be
running and all of a sudden just to feel it give out on you, it scared me. But
I've been getting treatment on it all day, and it feels much better. But it still
feels real sore, because it's only been one day. I'm just waiting on
(trainers) to let me know what I need to do next."
BEASLEY BEHIND SWEEP: The new wrinkles in coach Dennis Erickson's playbook
continue to come out. During team drills, Beasley took a pitch and swept the
right end with Hearst as his lead blocker in a reversal of their usual roles.
That's a play you never would have seen in recent seasons. Now it's a play that
promises to gain a respectable chunk of yardage on shock value alone.
SPEAKING OF NEW PLAYS: This one was a doozy, even if it gave you a headache
to watch - before the ball even was snapped. Late in team drills, the Niners
came to the line with three receivers split to the left and a tight end split
wide to the right. One receiver then shifted from left to right and lined up in
the slot. Before the ball was snapped, another receiver went in motion from
left to right. Quarterback Jeff Garcia then dropped back and fired a
perfectly-timed throw on a deep curl route to rookie Brandon Lloyd - the only remaining
receiver on the right side - who split two defenders while making the catch
and then scurried into the end zone.
CONCERN AT CORNER: This is what the Niners went with on their first-team
defense for several series during team work: Jimmy Williams at left cornerback,
Fred Weary at right cornerback and Rashad Holman working as the nickel back.
CORNERING NEW ORLEANS: Since Rumph won't play in Saturday's exhibition game
against the Saints, Erickson said Holman would start in his place at right
cornerback and Weary would become the nickel back. Antuan Simmons also played at
the nickel position Wednesday in practice.
CAPSHAW RELEASED: The Niners released rookie punter Freddie Capshaw,
solidifying incumbent Bill LaFleur's hold on that position. "We're trying to get some
flexibility as far as bringing some people in for a roster spot," Erickson
said of the decision to release Capshaw, who averaged 46 yards on his two
opportunities to punt in the first two preseason games. "Bill clearly is our No. 1
punter. Not that we couldn't bring Freddie back; he did some awfully good
things. Basically, we released him because of that and there might be some moves
here in the next week or so."
FLANIGAN STILL HURTING: Defensive tackle Jim Flanigan, who has been limited
in practice as he makes a slow return from calf problems, pulled himself from
drills in the morning as he continued to experience leg problems. Flanigan's
problem now has been isolated to his legs after doctors thought last week it
might be related to his back. Erickson said Flanigan might become an
"every-other-day guy" in practice as he continues to work through his injury. With Bryant
Young out, Adams and Travis Kirschke will start at defensive tackle Saturday
against the Saints.
Saturday's exhibition game against the New Orleans Saints represents the final chance for several…