Parker out for season; Clark could be next

Anthony Parker's season is over. Greg Clark's might be, too.

Parker, the 49ers' third cornerback who saw extensive action in secondary coverage packages and as a backup to starting right corner Jason Webster, will have surgery next week to repair his left shoulder that he dislocated and fractured in the Niners' Oct. 28 loss in Chicago.

 "It was a tough decision to make, because this team is going to the playoffs and I really want to be part of that," Parker told SFI. "But I was going to have to have surgery now or after the season, and I was concerned about hurting it worse. If I had surgery after the season, I wouldn't be ready to go again until after (spring) minicamps."

Clark, the team's erstwhile starting tight end, meanwhile, still is "a ways away" from returning, according to coach Steve Mariucci. With nine weeks remaining in the season, it's beginning to appear Clark won't play in 2001. Clark intimated to reporters this week that he is concerned his right hamstring problem may be career-threatening, and he will continue to take the time it needs to heal properly.

"I would say that thought has crept into my mind," said Clark, who has had three surgeries on his right hamstring this year, including a procedure where he had part of the tendon removed. "That's why I want to give it the best opportunity to heal that I can." Clark said he has seen improvement the past week after he cut down on running and concentrated his rehabilitation on strengthening the hamstring instead.

"Obviously, I don't have the muscle I used to have in my right leg," Clark said. "My other muscles have to compensate for the one that's not there now. So there's a lot of stretching, massaging, strength (training), all that kind of stuff. My left leg is stronger than it has ever been, but my right right now is probably between 50 and 60 percent of my left." Rookie Eric Johnson has done an admirable job in Clark's place - he's fourth on the team in receptions - and backup Justin Swift also has been solid when sharing time with Johnson.

Mariucci made a reference to Clark in past tense earlier this week, and the coach appears to be preparing as if he won't return this season. "We're hoping to get him back some time this season," Mariucci said. "But I don't know how that's going to go." Said Clark: "I don't know how close I am to coming back. I'm hopeful, but a combination of things have to happen. I have to get that thing strong enough, and hopefully they have enough patience with me and my rehab to get to that point."

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