News from the week

Will Steve Mariucci know San Francisco's plays better than the 49ers on Sunday? This and other items are on today's menu.

The 49ers will be facing a head coach this week that knows the team probably better than first-year coach Dennis Erickson. But Erickson said he does not plan to make too many changes on Sunday against Steve Mariucci's Detroit Lions.

"Obviously, Steve knows the team pretty good," Erickson said. "He has been around this team and offense for years. What we do this Sunday has nothing to do with him being the coach there. Offensively and defensively, we are going to do what we think is best."

In last season's Super Bowl, Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden knew the Raiders so well they were calling out their plays.

"There are some things that you can help on such as audible and things like that, you will still have to defend the play," Erickson said. "We will switch up some of the verbiage, but as many words as we have in our offense they have got them. Steve knows our verbiage."


The 49ers have re-evaluated their use of the Garrison Hearst-Kevan Barlow platoon system at running back and have decided not to change a thing. Hearst is the starter, but Barlow enters the game for every other series.

Erickson talked with running backs coach Tim Lappano prior to last week's game about the rotation at running back, and it was determined that the system would continue indefinitely.

"I asked him to see if they wanted to go two series," Erickson said, "but he just seemed to switch it off every series because they don't want to sit out long."


Defensive tackle Josh Shaw was reinstated by the NFL after serving a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. Shaw is still with the team, though he does not count against the 53-man limit. The 49ers have a week to make a decision whether to activate him or release him.

The 49ers signed free-agent defensive tackle Devone Claybrooks and released Ross Kolodziej. It appears as if the 49ers might release Shaw and then make a decision on whether to place him on their practice squad.

The Niners were unsure whether they would allow Shaw to return to practice this week, but those plans changed after Claybrooks' father died suddenly Wednesday night. Claybrooks temporarily left the team later that night and he won't play in Sunday's game.

Shaw began practice with the team Thursday.

"He could have practiced (had Claybrooks not left)," Erickson said of Shaw. "We were kind of making that decision. The first day we just had him work out with Jerry (physical development coordinator Jerry Attaway)to kind of see what kind of condition he was in. We thought he was in good condition, so we could have practiced him (Thursday), anyway. We were thinking about it. Then obviously to get through - we needed another defensive lineman - we did it because he's ready to go but also because we were down one lineman."


Erickson said the offense would try some different things this week against the Lions and in subsequent weeks as he tries to find combinations that work for the squad. One of the wrinkles appears to be increased playing time for rookie receiver Brandon Lloyd.

Lloyd is still considered the team's No. 4 receiver, but he will see action in certain three-receiver formations in place of Cedrick Wilson.


Since 1990, there have been 18 teams that started the season 1-3 or worse and reached the playoffs. Four of the 12 playoff teams last season started 1-3: Atlanta, Tennessee, the New York Jets and Pittsburgh. Each of those teams advanced to the second round of the playoffs.


QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think this team might have just as much emotion as they do. The thing about me is I just want to win a football game. I don't care who is coming to town, or what's coming to town, we need to win a game." -- Erickson on Sunday's game


Quarterback Jeff Garcia is 100 percent, says Erickson, but something has certainly been amiss with the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback. Garcia had his worst game since becoming the 49ers' full-time starter in 2000 on Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.

He missed open receivers -- often badly misfiring -- while completing just 11 of 23 passes for 108 yards and three interceptions.

Erickson said he believes it was just a bad day at the office for Garcia, and that he will bounce back to play up to his lofty expectations.

"Jeff is a very accurate passer," Erickson said. "I don't think there is one reason for that at all. He just didn't throw it very accurately. I don't think you will see that much with him."

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