The training camp crush

Reading between the fine lines after a busy and eventful opening day of 49ers training camp Monday at University of the Pacific:

--- Only 25 more days and 30 more practice sessions to go until camp breaks on Aug. 15. "Well, we got one in," Niners coach Steve Mariucci said. "Everybody's working hard. You have that long offseason, you know. And that's very necessary, but it's long and grinding and it's a lot of work and there's no game. You just keep working for, like, seemingly no reason. But now here it is. So these guys are fired up to get going and play some ball."

--- The New Guy: After a morning workout, the Niners signed rookie David Moreno, a 6-foot-2, 290-pound guard from San Diego State. He dressed and practiced with the team in the afternoon session.

--- T.O. In Tights: Terrell Owens wasn't trying to make a fashion statement Monday, but the always conspicuous receiver was even more so than usual as he zipped around the field resplendent in flashy white tights. "I've always worn the white tights," Owens said with a smile. "I'll mix it up sometime. Sometimes I have the black on, sometimes I have the red on. It's just something I did. I want to start the year off right."

--- Pro Bowl quarterback Jeff Garcia finished the 2001 season with a sore throwing elbow, ligament damage in his knee and sprained rib cartilage. But the only thing bothering him at the start of camp was a case of the sniffles. "Other than fighting a little bit of a cold, I feel extremely healthy," Garcia said. "I feel as great as I could possibly feel. I feel strong and ready to go. I'm just extremely excited about this upcoming year and I don't want to be the guy that's going to slow it down any."

--- No need for anybody to worry about that. Garcia, whose mobility appeared to be affected at the end of last season by his various injuries, was back to being his elusive, wily self during Monday's two practice sessions. Garcia squirmed away from frustrated defenders and slid out of the pocket effortlessly, reminding everybody of the extra dimension he brought to the offense before he injured his knee last Oct. 28 at Chicago.

--- The Niners announced Monday evening that third-year safety Ronnie Heard and fourth-year running back Terry Jackson finally signed their one-year tender offers. Jackson, a restricted free agent, signed for $563,000. Heard, an exclusive rights free agent, signed for $375,000.

--- The team's sophomore group - particularly running back Kevan Barlow, defensive end Andre Carter, linebacker Jamie Winborn and tight end Eric Johnson - stood out as a class of young players whose time already has come. Barlow and Carter came to camp with chiseled physiques and both possess star quality. The rangy Winborn was all over the field and also has returned leaner and meaner. Johnson simply looks like the team's next star tight end in the Brent Jones mold. Some of the other sophomores - receiver Cedrick Wilson, cornerback Rashad Holman, punter Jason Baker and receiver/returner Vinny Sutherland - didn't look too bad, either. "I've always said you'll see a real jump, a real improvement, from the freshman year to the sophomore year," Mariucci said.

--- The well-chronicled feud between Mariucci and Owens was a subject both treated like very old news Monday. When asked if the pair had put it behind them, Mariucci said, "I think so, and I hope so. And we've had several discussions and things have been good since, so on we go." Owens, as usual, was a bit more blunt - and also irreverent - on the subject. "We've already ironed it out," Owens said, "and it's in the closet. It's not even an issue right now." When the subject was brought up again, Owens said, "The Mooch questions are just being redundant. I mean, we've talked about it, we've gotten it out of the way, and it's just behind us. It's not a good thing for you (media) guys to keep asking. I think you guys are trying to make something out of nothing right now. Just let it die."

--- With rising teams Arizona and Seattle moving into the NFC West this year in the newly-realigned NFL, Mariucci indicated he wasn't necessarily happy to see old rivalries die with former divisional foes Atlanta, Carolina and New Orleans. "Yes, except for right now all three teams are going through a little bit of a transition period, you know? And now they're in a different division. But I'm not going to miss those long trips back and forth."

--- The Niners placed defensive end Menson Holloway (groin, toes), safety John Keith (left knee), cornerback Teddy Gaines (left quadriceps), defensive tackle John Schlecht (lower back) and receiver Donnie O'Neal on the physically unable to perform list Monday. Those players will work out on the side with physical development coordinator Jerry Attaway and, "will be practicing as soon as we feel they're capable," Mariucci said.

--- The Niners practiced in shorts and helmets Monday morning, then graduated to helmets and shoulder pads in the afternoon session. So you know what that means for Tuesday: The team's first practice in full pads of 2002. "We haven't had pads on since the Green Bay game," Mariucci said. "I know the guys are looking forward to that."

Aren't we all?

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