49ers Mid-Week Wrap

Practice notes and team news heading into week three of the 2003 NFL season.

--The 49ers have not had much luck in drafting kickers. Last year, they selected Jeff Chandler in the fourth round of the draft and paid him a $330,000 signing bonus. But he failed to make it through his second season with the club when they released him this week.
"After visiting with the coaches we decided that we needed to make a change at kicker," 49ers general manager Terry Donahue said. "It was a difficult decision, but Jeff has been struggling with his consistency and kickoff depth."
   Not since 1975-'76 when the 49ers drafted Steve Mike-Mayer in the third round has the team drafted a kicker that lasted two full seasons. Mike-Mayer did not last a third. The 49ers have drafted five kickers since Mike-Mayer.
   --When the 49ers signed kicker Owen Pochman, he became the first left-footed kicker in team history.
   "The only adjustment is just getting in sync with the snapper and holder," Pochman said. "I understand (holder) Bill LaFleur is a good athlete, so he just has to get used to holding his hand differently."
   LaFleur had a rough day at practice on Wednesday, as he mishandled a snap during field-goal practice in front of the team. The mechanics of placing a ball down are reversed, as instead of having the left hand on top and spinning the ball with the right hand, he will have the right hand on top while spinning the ball with his left hand.
   "I don't want to glamorize this more than what it is," LaFleur said. "I'm not comfortable with it yet, but I'll get there."
   --Lost in all the uproar over his reception at the end of regulation, receiver Cedrick Wilson had one of the best games of his NFL career. Wilson caught four passes for 57 yards, including the 29-yard reception as the clock expired at the end of regulation.
Wilson received all kinds of national attention for trying to score on the play instead of going down, which would have allowed the 49ers an opportunity to kick a last-second field goal.
   "It was a nice game for me, hopefully I can have better," Wilson said, while laughing, "but that one play really just jacked it all up."
   --Niners running backs Garrison Hearst and Kevan Barlow are expecting the Cleveland Browns defense to pay extra attention to their run defense this week, on the heels of Baltimore's Jamal Lewis rushing for an NFL-record 295 yards on 30 carries against them last week.
   "You can bet they're going to be ready for our running game," Hearst said. 'We expect that. Our thing is to go out and do what we do offensively and mix it up like we do and still try to establish running game."
   Said Barlow, "Normally when a defense gets run over like that, the next week they want to prove they're not soft on the run. They're probably emphasizing in practice this week, don't let the ball get run on us. They're going to be there in the gaps."
   --When Kwame Harris lined up with the starting unit against St. Louis, it was the first time the 49ers have started a rookie at left tackle since 1953. In 1953, two rookies, Doug Hogland and Hal Miller, started at left tackle.
   --RT Scott Gragg should be ready to return to the starting lineup this week after missing the first two starts with a high left ankle sprain.
   --LT Derrick Deese is battling a chronic right ankle problem and it will not be known until later in the week if he'll be available to play in Sunday's game. After coach Dennis Erickson said all last week that Deese would be available against the Rams, he was a late scratch from the starting lineup.
   --CB Rashad Holman, originally expected to be out of action for three weeks, has returned to practice and might return to his role as the team's nickel back in Sunday's game against the Browns.
   --LB Julian Peterson, coming off his first trip to the Pro Bowl, has gotten off to a strong start this season. Peterson has two sacks for minus-21 yards, forced two fumbles and recovered one.

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