Niners will limit Garcia in summer sessions

Pro Bowl quarterback Jeff Garcia enters training camp 2002 healthier than he has been in a year, and the 49ers enter camp saying they will go to every measure to make sure he stays that way.

It was during training camp 2001 that Garcia encountered soreness in his throwing elbow, a condition later diagnosed as tendinitis. Garcia fought through the minor ailment throughout the season, during which he also suffered a sprained ligament in his knee against Chicago and a cracked rib and sprained rib cartilage against Philadelphia.

Despite those injuries, Garcia never missed a play that counted. He displayed his special qualities of toughness and competitiveness by playing with those injuries without letting them affect his performance or the team's success.

But, of course, injuries such as those did prevent Garcia from being 100 percent healthy, and thus limited him in some ways throughout the season. But after a refreshing offseason to rest his body, Garcia says he'll come to camp - which begins Monday morning at the University of the Pacific campus in Stockton - without any limitations.

"As far as I'm concerned right now, I feel great, I feel healthy, all of my little nicks have kind of healed up since last year, and I think it's a situation where I'm raring and ready to go for training camp," Garcia said.

But after holding up last year to the pounding that a starting quarterback takes in the NFL - Garcia will enter the 2002 season having started 38 consecutive games as the Niners' QB - Garcia now is much more cognizant of pacing himself during the team's summer startup. Garcia admittedly overworked his throwing arm the past two summers and, last year, "it was definitely an issue at the beginning of the season," he said.

"As much as I'm not the type of guy who has ever been one to want to sit out of practices, or take any reps off, I'm going to have to be honest with myself and just say, 'OK, if I'm throwing a little bit too much, time to scale it back a little bit.'" Garcia said. "I have to realize what's best for not only myself, but also what's best for the team. And what's important for this team is that I'm in there helping to lead this team, and I can't lead this team if I'm sitting nursing injuries. And so, we just have to watch those things and monitor those things."

You can be certain the Niners will be doing just that, according to coach Steve Mariucci.

"You have to monitor those throws just like you would a baseball pitcher," Mariucci said. "We'll manage that as we go. Jeff communicates very well with us. If he feels good, he can go. If not, he'll rest. My guess is he'll get 50 to 60 percent of the (training camp) snaps when it's all said and done."

The Niners will keep track of every pass Garcia throws during training camp with a clicker. They'll also be giving him some afternoon practices off, along with other veterans. As far as the team is concerned, it's all about making sure Garcia and his arm are as healthy in September as they are today.

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