Summer startup date: July 20

Niners coach Steve Mariucci said on Monday the team is planning to begin its fifth training camp at the University of the Pacific in Stockton on July 20th, six days before they took the field with rookies and selected veterans in the summer of 2001.

"We have to be creative because we're playing in the Japan game," Mariucci said.

The 49ers need to get an earlier start in camp because they will participate in the kickoff game of the 2002 NFL preseason. The Niners meet the Washington Redskins on Aug. 3 in the 11th American Bowl in Osaka, Japan.

That will be the beginning of a busy five-game preseason for the Niners, who - in addition to the Japan game - also will play a nationally-televised game Aug. 19 against the Denver Broncos.

The Niners opened training camp even earlier the last time they had a five-game preseason slate in 2000. Camp practices began July 16 that year because the preseason also began earlier with a July 31 meeting against the New England Patriots in the Hall of Fame Game at Canton, Ohio.

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