After their April minicamp, the Niners released a depth chart that goes three deep at every position. Last year, Parker - the fourth-year product out of Weber State - was listed as the backup at right cornerback to starter Jason Webster, and was the team's third cornerback in secondary coverage packages before a shoulder injury during an overtime loss to Chicago in October ended his season.
But things have changed. And all indications are saying that Parker has fallen out of the team's plans. He also was one of the five players the Niners left unprotected in the expansion draft earlier this year.
"That's business," Parker said. "I didn't take it personal at all. It's a business. You can't think anything but it's a business."
Parker - who finally appeared to be coming into his own last year after a knee injury wiped out his rookie season of 1999 - was back at it in the secondary during the minicamp. He said the "shoulder's feeling good," and Parker looked smooth and experienced while he was on the field with the team for the first time since his injury. One of the team's biggest cornerbacks, Parker ostensibly would be in the thick of a battle for roster berths at the position this summer.
But at right cornerback behind Webster, the Niners now list rookie Mike Rumph - the team's No. 1 draft pick in April - as the backup and second-year player Jimmy Williams third. The depth chart at left cornerback lists starter Ahmed Plummer first, second-year player Rashad Holman second and seventh-round draft pick Teddy Gaines third.
"I am not worried one bit about the outcome," Parker said. "I can't worry about that. That's out of my control. The only thing I can worry about is out on the field, giving 110 percent and making plays. If coaches and the (general manager) want me to stay here, that will be great. I just take it day by day."
Parker said he's "taking care of my body, eating right, working out, doing all the necessary things to stay healthy." He knows that's something he must show he can do to remain with the team in 2002. The Niners also were disappointed that Parker opted for season-ending shoulder surgery in early November rather than attempt to rehab the injury and return later that month for the team's surprising playoff stretch run.
As a fourth-year player guaranteed a sizable veteran's minimum salary this year, Parker will have to outshine his younger, cheaper competition this summer to make it out of training camp. And, possibly, even to make it to training camp.
"I didn't hold up last year," Parker said. "I know that. I knew they were going to draft a cornerback. It didn't shock me. I wasn't down about. It just gives me more motivation to go out there and make plays and just work hard."