Parker injury opens way for Holman and/or Williams

Anthony Parker just can't get a break. But he sure can get a tear. Or a rip. For the third time in his four years with the Niners, the rangy cornerback has had season-ending surgery, this time for a torn right quadriceps tendon. Parker's misfortune leaves second-year players Rashad Holman and Jimmy Williams to battle it out for the right to be the team's fourth cornerback this season.

Parker, almost unbelievably, has seen another season with the Niners end before it even got started. He missed his entire rookie season in 1999 after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during training camp.

After working his way into the system in 2000, Parker was establishing himself as the Niners' third cornerback and top nickel back last season when he hurt his shoulder making a tackle in an Oct. 28 loss at Chicago. Much to the dismay of the team - which wanted the cornerback to rest and then rehab the injury and possibly return to action in December - Parker opted for season-ending surgery.

"He's had some tough luck," Niners coach Steve Mariucci said Thursday morning as Parker was having surgery for the injury he suffered in Wednesday's morning practice session. "He's had several surgeries. I felt sorry for him because he looked discouraged a little bit after this one. It's a serious injury. He'll be fine eventually, but it's going to keep him from playing this season."

There was a reasonable chance Parker wouldn't have been playing for the team this season, anyway. He was one of the five players the Niners made available on their expansion list to the Houston Texans, and he definitely fell from the team's favor when he opted for surgery last year. When the team drafted Mike Rumph in the first round in April, Parker fell even further down the depth chart.

Still, besides Rumph, Parker was the team's biggest cornerback and had a greater potential than any cornerback on the roster besides Rumph and starters Ahmed Plummer and Jason Webster. That potential is unlikely ever to be realized in a 49ers uniform now. With his injury history, the team almost certainly won't ask Parker back in 2003.

Holman and Williams were pushing Parker anyway, and maybe even moving ahead of him in the eyes of some coaches. That immediately becomes one of the top roster battles in camp to watch, because one of those youngsters definitely will make the team now. They both might.

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