NINERS FOCUS ON FOOTBALL AGAIN

On Monday, after a rare September weekend away from football, Lance Schulters came back to work with the rest of his 49ers teammates.

But the veteran safety still was in a daze.

Schulters was raised in - and his family still lives in - Brooklyn, N.Y. He admittedly was in a funk upon returning from the NFL's weekend off - the same funk Schulters had been mired in since he awakened on Sept. 11 to the news of a terrorist attack on New York, which Schulters called, "my town, my city."

But on Wednesday, when the Niners returned from their normal Tuesday day off, the focus once again was on football. Not to mention this week's opponent, the St. Louis Rams.

"It's different than it was," said Schulters, who once again had the gleam in his eye of a hard-hitting defensive back. How different? Earlier this week, Schulters couldn't yet work up any of the standard animosity needed to play football. That, apparently, has changed.

"It's the Rams," he said. "I don't like the Rams. They probably don't like me. I'm going to go out there and try and do everything I can to win. That's my mentality right now." Eight days after the horrific and tragic attack on America, that mentality finally was starting to spread throughout San Francisco's locker room.

"It's still on everybody's minds, and you can't forget what's happened," cornerback Ahmed Plummer said. "But it's time to get back to work. I have a job to do here, and I have my mind set to get back out there. The president says it's time for us to somehow get back to a normal type of a way of living. So that's what I'm going to try to do, just get back to work and take responsibility to get my job done."

There was laughter and light-heartedness again in the Niners' locker room Wednesday, and intensity and life returned to the practice field.

"There was more focus, more zip in practice - more like it has been in the past," coach Steve Mariucci said. "That's not to say everybody still isn't concerned about what's going on. But I believe we'll be able to focus on the game now, and play hard and play well."


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