49ers back from St. Louis beaten but not battered

P>The good news, once again, is the injury report. A lot of things went wrong for the 49ers last Sunday in St. Louis, but they were able to escape the artificial turf at the Dome at America's Center in relatively good health. </P>


The Niners were beaten up on the scoreboard 27-14 by the Rams, but they survived that first-place showdown with no serious injuries, leaving them in sturdy condition to tackle the playoff stretch run that begins this week along with the final quarter of their season.

"We didn't lose anybody in the game," Niners coach Steve Mariucci said Monday. "At this point in the season, what you're hoping to do is keep your team together from a health standpoint. Guys like T.O. (Terrell Owens), and of course Jeff (Garcia) with his knee, and Garrison (Hearst), they're nursing some things along. But they're sucking it up, they're practicing, they're playing, and they're going to finish this season out very well. So, that's all very encouraging."

Owens, the Niners' star receiver, suffered a hip pointer Sunday that temporarily sent him to the locker room during the game. He also has been nursing injuries to both ankles during the past two weeks, and Mariucci said his hip injury "probably will slow him down this week in practice a little bit," but he should be ready for this Sunday's game against the Miami Dolphins. Hearst, Mariucci said, "is a tailback in the National Football League ... so he's sore."

The Niners' star rusher is probable for Sunday. Garcia has an injured throwing elbow, an injured right knee and also a cut on his left hand that had him wearing a glove over it during Sunday's game against the Rams. But on Monday, Garcia - who wore a brace on his knee for a month - said he hasn't felt this good in a while.

"Actually, I feel better physically than I have been in a while," Garcia said. "So I think as this season is going along, I'm getting healthier. Especially with some of the things that I've been dealing with over the past month, two months, or what have you. I think that my knee is getting better in the sense that I'm able to play without the brace now. I feel a bit more mobile. My elbow is not causing nearly as much pain as it was, as I was going through a month ago. I think that those are things that are all getting better."

Regarding his left hand, Garcia said, "It's cut on top of the hand. It's something that happened in Indianapolis (on Nov. 25). I'm trying to protect it by wearing a glove, basically, and having it wrapped all the time. But there's no pain, nothing. Nothing wrong there. It just doesn't look too good. And I don't want to get it cut open again."

Starting strong safety Lance Schulters continues to nurse along his shoulder that he popped out of socket on Oct. 14 at Atlanta. Linebacker Jeff Ulbrich has a sprained ankle that will put him in a protective boot this week and leave him questionable for the Dolphins. And defensive tackle Bryant Young has a shoulder stinger, but he appeared to be OK on Monday. No other San Francisco player has a significant injury.

"As you know, this is the fourth quarter of the season," Mariucci said. "We've got four games left. And part of who's successful is who's the healthiest." In that regard, the 9-3 Niners appear set up for more success.

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