The Sunday wrap

News and views while looking here, there and everywhere to wrap up the first weekend of 2004 49ers training camp:

--- The good news is that Eric Johnson's right thumb isn't broken. The bad news is that it's a pretty nasty dislocation, and the fourth-year tight end probably will have to wear a cast for a while, which obviously will stunt the Niners' plans to make him a prolific part of their passing game, at least for the next few weeks.

--- And Johnson was looking pretty darn good so far, completely recovered from the broken collarbone that forced him to miss all of last season and required surgery at the end of the year. He'd gained back the considerable weight he'd lost during that ordeal and looks exceptionally robust at 252 pounds.

--- But you've got to wonder: Is this guy injury prone? Why does he have so much trouble staying healthy? Johnson has missed 20 games due to injury over the past two seasons.

--- Johnson, who made the transition to tight end after being a receiver in college at Yale, had an interesting comment when he was asked about the blocking aspect of James Jordan making the same sort of position switch this year with the Niners. "You can tell he wants to go hit somebody," Johnson said. "He's just, you know, a little confused in the head because it takes so much stuff to learn when you're coming in from receiver to tight end."

--- Jordan, by the way, hasn't looked bad in camp, and he'll be getting more reps now that Johnson is missing some practice time. The Niners only have one other tight end with NFL experience, and they like the receiving threat that Jordan brings to the position.

--- But having fast-rising Aaron Walker to fall back on as the starting tight end with Johnson out is not a bad thing at all.

--- Yes, Isaac Sopoaga does look better now that the pads are on. He's a load in the defensive interior.

--- The way Julian Peterson has been forgotten over the weekend after his holdout was an issue during the opening of camp Friday, it leads one to believe that it is going to be a long time before the All-Pro linebacker is seen again at the team facility.

--- And by that, we mean nobody is expecting him to show up during training camp. At all.

--- But he's around. Running back Kevan Barlow said Peterson is close by in the San Francisco Bay Area, and some teammates celebrated Peterson's 26th birthday with him on July 28. "He wants to get out here bad," Barlow said. "He's here, he's waiting to come to camp. He still hangs out with us guys off the field. He's just waiting to get in here and hopefully get that deal done."

--- It will be up to Peterson and his agents to make the next move in getting that deal done, because the Niners aren't budging. And won't be later, either.

--- Barlow, for one, defies those prognosticators who predict the Niners will be among the dregs of the NFL this season. "We're a force to be reckoned with," he declared. "I think a lot of teams are going to come in here and underestimate us and think that they're going to run over us. And they're going to have a rude awakening. We're going to be a surprise to a lot of guys. A lot of (49ers') guys are out there are focused, and they're hungry."

--- There is a lot of high praise for Jasen Isom's blocking and development at fullback, but he has to haul in passes that are right in his hands.

--- Brandon Lloyd can really get up in the air to grab passes. And I mean, REALLY.

--- Acrobatic? Yes, that's the right word. And Lloyd combines his leaping ability with perfect timing, too. He knows exactly when to go up and when to twist his body.

--- Quarterback Tim Rattay made it through the first weekend of camp with flying colors. And no soreness. "It's coming along pretty good," Rattay said Sunday of his return from a torn groin injury that required surgery. "It hasn't given me any problems. It's not sore in the morning. So, it's good. Hopefully, it will just keep progressing."

--- The Niners are making the right move by easing him in gradually, but it's difficult not to want to see more of Rattay with him throwing the ball so well and obviously more in command of the offense than the other players the Niners have at the position.

--- The air is much fresher at Niners camp now that one huge ego has been removed from the equation. You know, the one that's now in Philadelphia.

--- Receiver Rashaun Woods and cornerback Shawntae Spencer tangle often during team drills, and it's great competition to watch between the team's young first- and second-round draft picks.

--- Ken Dorsey still is wobbling passes, but they're getting to their intended targets.

--- Maurice Hicks continues to slither through holes and look consistently impressive.

--- Defensive end Andrew Williams is wearing No. 99 on his back now, and it seems to suit him better, giving him a more menacing presence.

--- It's Saleem Rasheed's time to shine. But we've said that before.

--- Only 27 more days and 30 more scheduled practice sessions to go before camp breaks.


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