Another surgery for Newberry?

Jeremy Newberry's body is betraying him again, and that's bad news for the 49ers' struggling offensive line. Newberry is experiencing a painful new problem with his right knee, and it will keep him out of Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints and might even require surgery.

Newberry didn't practice again Thursday for the second consecutive day, and he continues to experience some severe pain underneath the same kneecap on which he had arthroscopic surgery on Aug. 10.

Doctors found cartilage underneath the kneecap during that procedure and cleaned it out, and Newberry was back at practice a few weeks later pronouncing himself fit and looking so good that coach Dennis Erickson was saying it was the healthiest the two-time Pro Bowl center has been in at least three years.

But that good health and optimism didn't last long.

Newberry's knee is acting up again, and Erickson said the latest injury is unrelated to the center's previous knee condition.

"This is a different problem," Erickson said. "This is his kneecap and the movement of his kneecap. People have that, it's just a matter of how severe it is. It's been very severe with him. He's one of the toughest guys I've ever seen play the game and it bothers him. He's in pain."

Newberry started all 16 games last season with a completely torn ligament in his left ankle. He had reconstructive surgery on the ankle in January and didn't practice with the team again until training camp began in July.

The seven-year veteran developed the cartilage problem in his knee a few days after camp began. But he returned to start the preseason finale and was ready to go for the season opener last week against Atlanta before the new knee problems developed.

Newberry has missed just one game in the past five seasons despite playing with a variety of significant injuries, but Erickson indicated another surgery could be possible.

"I don't know that for sure right now," he said. "(Team doctors) are going to wait and see where it is at. You can't damage it anymore, it's just very painful. You have to go in surgically, from what I understand, you just have to stabilize the kneecap."

Newberry's condition will be monitored the rest of this week and, although Erickson said Thursday that Brock Gutierrez will start Sunday against the Saints, Newberry still hasn't officially been ruled out of the game.

But the likely scenario is that he'll be out even longer than this week if doctors can't find a non-surgical way to relieve his pain and solve the problem in his knee.

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