49ers a hurting team

The 49ers have been anticipating Saturday's full-contact intra-squad scrimmage throughout the first week of training camp, but now coach Mike Nolan will spend the night before thinking twice about how live he really wants his team to go during that session. The team's injury list grew Friday with a rash of injuries that will put fullback Steve Bush on the shelf for a week and keep tailback Frank Gore out even longer.

Bush and Gore – the team's second-string backfield behind starters Fred Beasley and Kevan Barlow – both injured shoulders. Gore has a chipped bone in his right shoulder and Bush has some rotator cuff damage in his left shoulder.

"I guess we're politically incorrect that Bush's injury is on the left shoulder and Gore's is on the right," Nolan quipped, alluding to the presidential candidates from 2000. "We're politically incorrect, but we are injured."

Gore was injured when he was hit with his arm spread out to avoid a defender. The contact twisted his arm backward and "popped his shoulder out through the back," Nolan said. Gore's shoulder popped back into place, but a bone was chipped on the back side when it was popped out.

Gore and Bush aren't the only ones hurting as the team prepares for the first extended full-contact session since training camp practices began July 30.

Offensive tackle Jonas Jennings, the team's top offseason acquisition, had surgery Friday to re-attach a torn tendon in his right index finger and will miss the next week of practice. Nolan would not say for sure, but the coach indicated Jennings "probably won't" play in San Francisco's first preseason game Aug. 13 against the Oakland Raiders.

Jennings is one of four injured offensive linemen. Projected starters Jeremy Newberry (knee) and David Baas (hamstring) have yet to participate in training camp, and Jennings' backup – rookie Patrick Estes – broke a bone in his left hand Thursday but was able to return to practice Friday wearing a protective cast.

Receiver P.J. Fleck – who was taken by ambulance to Stanford Hospital after a scary Friday morning collision – also won't participate in the scrimmage. Neither will receiver Rashaun Woods (groin) and starting right cornerback Shawntae Spencer (hamstring). Both second-year players were injured in Monday's morning practice and have missed practice the past four days. Nolan was hopeful both players could return for the scrimmage, but he said that won't happen now.

Safety Arnold Parker also won't participate after suffering a shoulder injury that will keep him out the next two weeks of practice.

Nolan said late Friday afternoon that "it's our intention it will be a live, tackle scrimmage" Saturday, but the coach said he will give that original plan some consideration after he evaluates his team and its depth with his assistants.

"I have to be smart about our football team," he said, noting that he and his coaches are eager to see what players can do in particular areas during unrestricted combat – something the team has yet to do with its first- and second-team players so far in camp.

"When you go live, the tackling aspect and the blocking aspect are more important," Nolan said. "Holding blocks is more important. In these (practice) drills, we don't hold them quite as long. We'll be holding (blocks) longer, and tackling is a big issue. Seeing what kind of angles guys take to the ball and if they can tackle – that's a huge thing for me. That's something I always watch. As we all talk about during the season, there's better tackling teams than others."

The scrimmage, which is open to the public, will begin with the first-team offense going against the first-team defense – and vice-versa – for about a dozen plays each drive.

The Niners' third-team units then will go against each other for another dozen plays. The team then will conduct a kickoff in the middle of the field while the front-line units take a break before ending the session with the second units going against each other and the third units facing each other for about 20 total plays.


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