Skins Sign Versatile Vet

When the 49ers cut offensive lineman Dave Fiore early in the 1996 season, it caused a split in the organization. Many didn't want to see him leave. So when they had a chance to re-sign him before the following season, they did--even though they knew he would need surgery and miss the season.

Fiore, signed today by Washington, was a favorite of famed of the late 49ers line coach Bob McKittrick because of his athleticism and versatility. Both are qualities the Redskins want in their offensive lineman. Line coach Kim Helton favors players who can handle more than one spot. Actually, he demands they know more than one position (save for Jon Jansen and Chris Samuels). It's why they could trade David Loverne, who was limited to left guard.

But Fiore, who played collegiately at Hofstra, isn't limited. He has started full seasons at left tackle, right guard and left guard. He can even play center. He'll play guard in Washington.

The problem, and it could be a big one with Fiore, released by the 49ers this week because he would have made $2.5 million this season, is health. He's fine now, but he's coming off a torn ACL (suffered against the Redskins in Week 3), the fifth major knee surgery of his career. However, he started 50 of a possible 51 games before tearing his knee this past season.

Those who watched him describe Fiore as a solid player with an incredibly strong work ethic. Had he not been on IR, he could have played by the end of the season because he rehabbed so vigorously. And he worked out at the 49ers facility every day--and was working out the day he was cut.

He should fit in well with this line--if he stays healthy.

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