Fleck taken to hospital after practice collision

A pall cast over 49ers training camp Friday morning when receiver P.J. went to the ground after colliding with linebacker Jamie Winborn in 7-on-7 drills and remained there for almost 15 minutes. Fleck was taped to a backboard and lifted onto a gurney before being taken by ambulance to Stanford Hospital.

"It scared me. It scared everybody," Winborn said. "To be honest with you, it scared me so bad I can't even remember what happened."

The team's fears were alleviated after trainers and paramedics attended to Fleck on the field and the second-year veteran had feeling in all his extremities. The initial diagnosis is that Fleck has a back sprain. Fleck was able to walk out of the hospital Friday afternoon after being checked.

"P.J.'s fine," coach Mike Nolan said. "He was laying on the ground over there joking. Everything's working out with him. They just \wanted to take caution and make sure it was all OK."

Fleck caught a pass in front of Winborn and was hit simultaneously as he turned up field in drills that were not of the full-contact variety.

"I thought he had time to see me," Winborn said. "It was like a freak accident."

There was immediate concern after the collision took place because, Winborn said, "His eyes started rolling back. I know that's not normal. I know what losing your breath is, but it was different than losing your breath."

Said receiver Johnnie Morton, one of the first players on the scene before trainers arrived, "He was kind of, I don't want to say in convulsions, but almost. He was struggling and really couldn't get any air. I got kind of nervous because it seemed like he was doing that for a while. Time went by and he eventually settled down. After we got into team drills, I went over to check on him and he was kind of laughing and stuff."

Nolan almost certainly won't allow Fleck to participate in Saturday's full-contact practice, when the 49ers are scheduled to have a live two-hour scrimmage, but knowing the scrappy receiver, he probably will want to return.

Already during training camp, Fleck has taken several heavy hits that looked worse than the one he received Friday morning. He says they look worse than they really are because of his diminutive size, but he usually bounces off them while holding onto the ball.

Until Friday.

"He's tough as nails," Morton said. "That guy goes after every ball. He's a tough guy that you just want on your team because he's the type of guy that inspires other players."

Said Nolan, "He's a tough little nut. He fights his tail off. He was one of our better offseason guys. You wish he was 6-(foot)-3 and could run a 4.4(-second 40-yard dash), but he's not. Nonetheless, he's a good little player who sets a good example for the other players."

Fleck is an undrafted free agent who made the team's practice squad as a rookie coming out of training camp last year before working his way up to the 53-man roster by the end of the season. He worked his way past 2004 first-round draft pick Rashaun Woods during spring drills and currently is running as the team's fourth receiver behind Morton and projected starters Brandon Lloyd and Arnaz Battle.

Fleck spent two hours at Stanford Hospital and returned to the team facility to watch the team's late afternoon practice from the sidlines.

"It looked worse than it was, and thank God it wasn't as bad as everybody thought at first," Fleck said. "I pretty much froze up. I couldn't breathe. My body was locked. I couldn't do anything. My back cramped, my neck cramped, and your diaphragm cramps at the same time. It's kind of like whiplash. About 35 seconds later, I could breathe and I could move."

Nolan said he would hold Fleck out of Saturday's full-contact intra-squad scrimmage, but also said the scrappy receiver would return to practice on Monday.

Fleck was just relieved to have the whole episode behind him.

"It was scary and a little bit embarassing, to tell you the truth," he said. "But I feel really good now and feel like I could play today. It's funny because you see a guy get taken away in an ambulance in the morning and he's out here walking around in the afternoon. But that's the way the body works. It protects you."

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