Injuries along the O-line

Eric Heitmann's back flared up on him before Friday night's preseason finale in San Diego, adding to the uncertainty on the 49ers' starting offensive line, where only right guard Ron Stone figures to be completely healthy and ready for next Sunday's season opener against the Chicago Bears.

Heitmann - the Niners' starting left guard - aggravated the same lower back injury that he had coming out of Stanford last year, a condition that caused him to drop to the seventh round of the 2002 NFL Draft. According to coach Dennis Erickson, Heitmann was much better on Saturday and should be ready to play against the Bears.

But the same can't be said for starting right tackle Scott Gragg, who continues to mend from a high ankle sprain he suffered in the middle of the preseason.

"Scott is very questionable for the (Bears) game," Erickson said. "He has a chance, and he will be close, but (he) is still questionable for the game."

If Gragg is unable to play in the opener, the Niners will decide between youngsters Kyle Kosier and Kwame Harris to take his place. Kosier has been running behind Gragg at right tackle all summer, while Harris - the team's first-round draft pick this year - has been playing primarily left tackle, though he did see some time at right tackle Friday against San Diego.

"We will have to make a decision," between those two if Gragg is unable to go, Erickson said. "I thought they both played pretty well. Kosier did some really good things and when Kwame moved over there in the second half, (he) played pretty darn well for not being over there."

It's possible Harris will need to be ready to go at any time at left tackle also, because incumbent starter Derrick Deese was sore after limited playing time against the Chargers. Deese - who has been brought along slowly during the summer - should be ready to go against the Bears. But he has seen very little action during the summer and there are some questions how he will hold up once the regular-season action intensifies.

"Derrick is OK," Erickson said. "He played about five or six snaps (against San Diego) and he was a little sore afterwards, but we pulled him out. Not because of an injury, it was because we wanted to pull all of them (starters) after the first series."

With Pro Bowl center Jeremy Newberry nursing an ankle ligament problem that figures to remain with him all season, the Niners suddenly have some real concerns along their offensive line with the season just a week away.

"When we are healthy, it is fine," Erickson said. "We have injuries there and we will have to deal with them as the year goes on. Hopefully, we will get Scott back, I think Eric is fine, (and) Jeremy is going to be ready to go. We have some veterans who have some injuries, and we knew that going into the season, we just have to deal with them. We have some depth there, and we will just have to make some adjustments as we go through the season. It is not just going to be this week things like this will happen all year."


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