49ers player notes
QB Alex Smith: The youngest starting quarterback in the NFL at age 22, Smith has looked like a different player in his second NFL season. After five weeks, he's the NFL's 13th-rated quarterback with a passer rating of 85.2 after recording a career-high game rating of 120.5 last week against the Raiders. Smith is completing 58.6 percent of his passes for 1,071 yards, has six touchdowns and three interceptions, and has been sacked only eight times in five games. He also has rushed 14 times for 63 yards, which ranks second on the team. RB Frank Gore: The second-year tailback is the NFL's co-leader for rushing yards with 465, which ties him with the Rams' Steven Jackson. Gore has a 4.6-yard average, the highest among the league's six leading rushers. He ended his streak of four consecutive games with a fumble while rushing for a career-high 134 yards against the Raiders. Gore also leads the NFL with 23 rushing first downs, and is second in the league in yards from scrimmage with 632, which puts him 17 yards behind Jackson. After catching three passes for 38 yards against Oakand, Gore also leads the 49ers with 19 receptions on which he has gained 167 yards. RB Michael Robinson: The rookie fourth-round draft pick carried 12 times against the Raiders but managed only 21 yards. The team's new short-yardage back was stopped for no gain on a fourth-and-1 situation in the second quarter. Robinson has 62 yards on 23 carries this season and also has caught three passes. WR Antonio Bryant: The fifth-year veteran was clearly frustrated Monday that reporters were talking to him about his recovery of an onside kick, rather than his receiving. Bryant caught just three passes for 27 yards against the Raiders. He received five stitches after getting drilled by Oakland's Justin Fargas upon recovering an onside kick. Bryant voiced disapproval at his teammates on that side for not blocking Fargas. After opening the season with consecutive 100-yard receiving efforts, Bryant had his third consecutive quiet game against Oakland, but he still leads the 49ers with 337 receiving yards (on 17 catches), a figure good for 16th among the NFL leaders. His 19.8 average is second in the NFL among all receivers with 15 or more receptions. FB Moran Norris: The sixth-year veteran was active for the third consecutive game, and he responded with a big performance. Norris, a 250-pound bruiser, was a devastating lead-blocker for Frank Gore, who rushed for 134 yards. Norris played 40 of the team's 60 snaps. He also caught a 7-yard pass on a third-down play to keep a TD drive alive. FB Chris Hetherington: The team's regular fullback was inactive Sunday against the Raiders for the third consecutive game after starting the first two games of the season. C Eric Heitmann: Settling in as the regular center in place of Jeremy Newberry, the fifth-year veteran - who also has been a regular starter at both right guard and left guard during his career with the 49ers - had one of his strongest games of the season against the Raiders to spark an offensive line that opened holes in the running game and did not allow a sack or get flagged for a penalty. RB/KR Maurice Hicks: The third-year veteran recorded the first receiving touchdown of his career against the Raiders , turning his only touch of the game into a weaving, 33-yard catch-and-run into the end zone after taking a screen pass from quarterback Alex Smith. Hicks also averaged 25.5 yards on two kickoffs, including a 30-yarder, and his 27.0 average this season leads the NFC and ranks fifth in the NFL. Hicks, still listed as second on the team's depth chart at tailback, has just one carry for three yards, but has added seven catches for 84 yards through the air. WR Arnaz Battle: The fourth-year veteran, bothered by knee problems since early last season, is healthy and playing well. Battle caught four passes for just 37 yards against the Raiders, but he had the first two-TD game of his career. Battle caught scoring passes of 4 and 6 yards. He has 15 catches for 194 yards on the season and also has contributed with strong blocking down the field. Battle also is averaging 19.5 yards on punt returns, a figure that would easily lead the NFL, but he does not have enough attempts to qualify after rookie Brandon Williams handled return duties for the 49ers for the third consecutive week. WR Bryan Gilmore: The team's No. 3 receiver, Gilmore played 23 snaps against the Raiders and did not have a reception. For the season, Gilmore has five catches for 114 yards, a 22.8 average that leads the team. TE Vernon Davis: The rookie first-round draft pick is expected to miss at least another couple weeks with a broken right lower leg. He sustained the injury in the third quarter Sept. 24 against the Eagles. Davis has five catches for 37 yards this season - including a 31-yard touchdown on his first NFL catch - all of which came in the season opener at the Cardinals. He is aiming for an Oct. 29 return against the Chicago Bears when the 49ers return from their bye week. TE Eric Johnson: The sixth-year veteran has taken over as the main tight end after Vernon Davis' injury. Johnson was on the field for all 60 of the 49ers' offensive plays against the Raiders. His blocking was much-improved from the week earlier against the Chiefs. Johnson had three catches for 23 yards, raising his season totals to 14 receptions for 126 yards. LG Larry Allen: The 13th-year veteran practiced Wednesday, and coach Mike Nolan said he is hopeful Allen will be available to play against the Chargers. He has been out with a left knee injury since getting injured on the sixth play of the season. LT Jonas Jennings: The sixth-year veteran, who has been plagued by injuries throughout his career, left the game against the Raiders in the first quarter with a wrist injury. He underwent surgery Monday morning to repair a torn finger ligament on the same hand. He is listed as probable for Sunday's game against the Chargers. K Joe Nedney: The team's 2005 offensive MVP after making 26 of 28 field-goal attempts last season, Nedney is off to a slow start this year, making just 7 of 11 attempts so far after hooking a 49-yard attempt wide right against the Raiders. LB Parys Haralson: The rookie saw his first extended action of the season against the Raiders as he came into the game as a third-down pass rusher. He was credited with one tackle in the game and could begin to see increased playing time as the season progresses now that he is recovered from a foot injury that kept him out the first three weeks of the season. DE Melvin Oliver: The sixth-round draft pick from LSU, who started for the fourth time in five games this season last week, is the reason the 49ers have gone with primarily a 4-3 defense. Oliver has been the base right end. He recorded two tackles, and also had a 12-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown against the Raiders, making him the first rookie defensive lineman to score a touchdown in the 49ers' 61-year history. LB Manny Lawson: The rookie was used primarily on early downs in the 49ers' base defense. Although he came to the 49ers with the reputation as a pass rusher, he is more of a cover linebacker. Coach Mike Nolan said he wants to keep him fresh. Lawson showed his athleticism when he blocked a punt against the Raiders. Lawson was credited with seven blocked punts in his career at North Carolina State. TE Delanie Walker: The rookie sixth-round draft pick, who had not played since sustaining a separated shoulder Sept. 1 in the 49ers' final exhibition game, saw one snap on offense and some duty on special teams against Oakland. Walker showed his elusiveness on his one kickoff return, taking a short kick at the 11-yard line and making several defenders miss on a 25-yard return. CB Walt Harris: The 11th-year veteran did not get a lot of action Sunday, but when the Raiders came his way, he made the most of it. Harris had a career-high three interceptions, a total that vaulted him to second among the NFL leaders in that department, and he has been the 49ers' most consistent defensive player through the first five games. S Chad Williams: The fifth-year veteran, who was averaging 40 yards on his eight career interceptions entering the season, bettered that average against the Raiders, taking his first pick of 2006 back 43 yards in the fourth quarter to set up a San Francisco field goal. Williams, who plays predominantly in secondary coverage packages, continues to lead the 49ers with 2.5 sacks after five games.
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