Injuries can mean opportunity

One 49er who may lose his starting job but still benefit is Adam Snyder, who can play anywhere on the offensive line. He's making the most of that chance.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – No team likes injuries, but when they happen, they often lead to someone getting an opportunity that wouldn't otherwise occur.

That's what's happening at the San Francisco 49ers' training camp, where two starters – center Eric Heitmann and guards Chilo Rachal and David Baas – nursed ailments and watched practice from the side. In their places, others had a chance to step forward.

Rookie tackle Anthony Davis and guard Mike Iupati got plenty of reps on Wednesday, while Cody Wallaced filled in for Heitmann, who has a stinger. Rachal, who collapsed on the field Tuesday because of dehydration, and Baas, who is recovering from a mild concussion, are listed as day to day.

In a way, the long-term benefactor could be Adam Snyder, who may eventually lose his starting right tackle job to Davis but could prove to be invaluable as a backup anywhere along the offensive line. His value is his versatility.

"Not only does it help Snyder, it helps us," coach Mike Singletary said. "The fact is, he's a guy that can play up and down the offensive line, including at center. Adam is an unusual type of guy. He's a cerebral guy, but at the same time he can get physical, and he's a good athlete. You don't find that too often in one guy, so I'm thankful we have him."

Snyder, who started 15 games last season at right tackle and one at right guard, said he's keenly aware that his job may go to a rookie at some point. His main focus now is winning a job, even as a backup.

"In my position, I want to do whatever I can to be on this team," he said. "Right now, I'm the starting right tackle, and I'm keeping that job as long as I can. If they need me to step in and play guard, I'll play guard. I've had that mindset for six years."

LEARNING CURVE: A number of rookies drew the wrath of defensive coordinator Greg Manusky, who chided them loudly for their poor play during the morning practice. On several occasions, he ordered the same play to be repeated by the offense to make sure his squad got it right.

"It's basically the younger guys," Singletary said. "Greg and Jimmy (Raye, the offensive coordinator) are going to have their frustrations with them. The young guys think they know what they need to do until things start moving around. (But) once a guy starts in motion, it changes the whole call. It changes the whole nature of the defense, and they have to be able to make those calls."

RECOLLECTIONS OF RICE: Former 49ers wideout Jerry Rice will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, on Saturday. A contingent of team representatives, including team president Jed York, VP of football affairs Keena Turner and director of alumni relations Guy McIntyre, will leave Thursday to attend the induction ceremonies.

Singletary, the former Bears linebacker who is also in the Hall of Fame, was asked what he remembered playing against Rice.

"What was it like to play against Jerry? It was a headache," Singletary said. "That's the best way to describe it. He was consistent from the start of his career until the very end, a perfectionist. He wasn't a blazer, but he was extremely consistent and detailed in his routes."

Asked if he ever got a good hit on Rice, Singletary smiled and answered, "Very rarely."


Niners Digest Top Stories