J.J. Stokes and Tai Streets both worked out in pads with the 49ers on Wednesday, but following the afternoon practice session coach Steve Mariucci all but announced that both would sit out Saturday's exhibition game against the Seattle Seahawks.

Both players missed most of training camp with hamstring strains and neither played in the team's first two exhibition games.

"We haven't declared it official yet, but right now my mindset is that I will take a conservative approach this week," Mariucci said of his projected Nos. 2 and 3 receivers. "In keeping with the philosophy that I certainly don't want them out there prematurely, I'm leaning that way." Streets, who also is returning from a fractured right tibia, practiced in a limited fashion but did take snaps in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 team drills. Stokes participated in warm-ups and individual drills with his teammates, then spent the rest of practice working with conditioning coach Jerry Attaway.

The absence of Stokes and Streets has given several rookie free agents a chance to shine in the preseason. Grant Heard caught five passes for 84 yards in the exhibition opener at San Diego, and Jimmy Farris has contributed three catches for 47 yards while starting in place of Stokes both games. Sixth-round draft pick Cedrick Wilson and second-year player Dwight Carter also have had opportunities to capture attention.

"A few of them have definitely opened some eyes," Niners quarterback Jeff Garcia said. "It's been a great opportunity for them. They've really started to make their presence felt so they can step in and play the game with us and hopefully be part of this future."


Mariucci said it's possible the team's starters would play into the third quarter against the Seahawks. …. Mariucci on rookie Jamie Rheem, who appeared to be leading the competition for the kicker's job before injuring his hamstring Aug. 1: "I don't know if he's going to kick in the preseason games. He might miss them all." … Farris and Wilson might also see time returning punts against Seattle as the Niners continue to look for someone they can count on to fill that role. … Former 49ers coach Howard "Red" Hickey visited the team facility on Wednesday for the first time since it was moved to Santa Clara in 1988. Hickey, 84, coached the Niners from 1959-63 and was credited with unveiling the shotgun formation now used by several teams.


Mariucci, when asked his take on the possibility of the NFL using replacement referees: "You know what? I swear, I haven't given it any thought. I'm just too busy teaching our guys the rules. Really, I just stay away from that topic altogether. They have the flags in their pocket."

Niners Digest Top Stories