More tinkering with roster as Rams week begins

As the 49ers returned to practice Tuesday in earnest preparation for Sunday's regular-season opener against the St. Louis Rams, the team also continued to make some alterations at the bottom of its roster while adding another player to finalize San Francisco's eight-player practice squad.

The top news Tuesday was the signing of 10-year veteran Chris Hetherington, a versatile fullback/H back/tight end known for his ability as a lead blocker and productive performer on special teams. The Niners waived second-year guard Tony Wragge to make room for Hetherington on the 53-man roster.

Hetherington (6-3, 245) will be joining his sixth NFL team after spending time with Cincinnati (1996), Indianapolis (1996-1998), Carolina (1999-2001), St. Louis (2002) and Oakland (2003-2004).

He has played in 107 NFL games, starting 14, and gives the Niners another dimension and more backup depth at both the fullback and tight end positions. Hetherington has started at least one game in six of the past seven NFL seasons, but he was released by the Raiders in their final roster cutdown over the weekend.

Wragge (6-4, 320), a second-year player who spent the 2004 season with the Los Angeles Avengers of the Arena League, appeared to have made the team last week as a backup guard. But with veterans Jeremy Newberry and Eric Heitmann both ready to play in the season opener, and rookie guard David Baas also returning to health from a torn hamstring, the Niners opted to go for the moment with just eight offensive linemen on their roster.

The 49ers also signed cornerback Amad Treaudo to complete their eight-man practice squad, the second cornerback the team has signed to that unit. Treaudo (5-10, 181) went to training camp with the New York Giants after signing as a rookie free agent out of Southern University. He was waived by the Giants on the final cut over the weekend.

Treaudo led Division I-AA with nine interceptions last year while being named to the Associated Press's All-American first team in that division.

After two days off, the 49ers began preparing for their season opener with a one-hour practice Tuesday before hitting their regular weekly season schedule on Wednesday.

Tight end Eric Johnson, who has been out since Aug. 9 with a foot injury, was the only player on the team's final roster who did not practice. Johnson is likely to miss the Rams game, and could miss San Francisco's Sept. 18 game in Philadelphia, too, to give his injury more time to heal.

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