Scenes from 49erland
--- The 49ers haven't died even though their playoff hopes were put on the deathbed during last week's lopsided loss to the Baltimore Ravens. "It was a good energy level," coach Dennis Erickson said of Wednesday's practice - the team's first since San Francisco's playoff hopes took a massive hit during an embarrassing 44-6 loss at Baltimore. "We have to fight back. That's what it is all about. We have good leadership and we practiced really well today. We've practiced well all year. We'll see what happens on Sunday. --- Despite the unlikely possibility of a late playoff run, the Niners have not given up hope they can rebound from their latest galling road loss and string together a season-ending win streak, beginning with this week's home game against the Arizona Cardinals. "There's going to be a 9-7 team in the (NFC) playoffs, in the wild-card game," linebacker Julian Peterson said. "So right now we just have to make sure we take care of business one game at a time so we at least have a chance to be mentioned in the wild-card (race)." --- Halfback Garrison Hearst's surgery to repair a meniscus cartilage tear in his right knee, "went OK," Erickson said. "Obviously, he won't play this week. Hopefully, he'll be back next week. We don't know that for sure. We'll know more at the end of the week. But the surgery went well." --- Quarterback Jeff Garcia, coming off the worst performance of his career, looked good in practice, moving around well and throwing the ball with more velocity, according to Erickson. Garcia still is bothered by a left ankle sprain that forced him to miss three games, but he said otherwise he might be as healthy as he has been all season. "Ankle-wise, it's going to nag me," Garcia said. "It's just going to be one of those things that's going to be with me the rest of the season. As far as being able to move around, and arm strength and just crispness, I feel about as good as I've felt all year right now." --- After alternating at tailback between Garrison Hearst and Kevan Barlow the past three seasons, Garcia says it might actually be a positive twist for the 49ers to have Barlow in a featured role for the first time this week. "As unfortunate as it is to see Garrison injured and sidelined for this game, I think in many ways it could be a good thing for this offense, as far as just having one back back there who can find a rhythm and get into some sort of groove and hopefully break off some big runs," Garcia said. "We haven't really had that over the past two-and-a-half seasons, basically, to compare it to. I have to go back to when we had Charlie Garner who was our sole back. When he was playing every single down, he pretty much was able to get into those grooves, especially in the passing game. They've done a great job as far as how they've handled sharing time. Now we'll just have to see what it means to this offense when one guy has all of the snaps and what sort of impact it makes on us." --- Rookie receiver Arnaz Battle is listed as out for this week's game, but the Niners still are hoping he can return to play in the season's final games. There has been talk recently of putting Battle on injured reserve, but the Niners are holding off on that decision for a while. "We're going to wait until the end of this week and see how his toe is," Erickson said. "Early next week, if we feel like he can play on it and he's healthy enough to play and help us, then he'll play the last part of the season. If he can't, then we'll have to make another decision." --- Jeff Ulbrich missed his first start of the season last week with ankle and thigh problems, but the tough linebacker was back at practice Wednesday and is expected to resume his spot in the lineup on Sunday. "It's hard to keep him out of the lineup very long," Erickson said. "He moved around pretty well, too." Erickson lauded the play of Saleem Rasheed last week in Ulbrich's place. In his first career start, Rasheed was second on the team with six tackles and apparently earned himself a more extensive role in the linebacker rotation the rest of the season. "You saw the instincts. He made quite a few plays," Erickson said. "Once he got the feel of the game, he got better and better. What that does now, with Jeff back, it just gives us another linebacker that gives us some depth. We'll use (Rasheed) kind of in the same situation that we used Jamie (Winborn) before he got hurt."
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