49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

August 27, 2007
Right tackle still a question mark

That big announcement about who will start at right tackle for the 49ers? It didn't happen today. Instead, Mike Nolan said that incumbent Kwame Harris and challenger Joe Staley would continue to rotate in Thursday's game in San Diego as they have the two previous preseason games. Which is a little surprising considering a.) If the 49ers ultimately pick Staley, he'll have had little time playing alongside the first-team offensive line and b.) the starters are only scheduled to go 12 plays against the Chargers. That means that if Kwame Harris plays the first two series like he did in Chicago, that might be it for the first-team offensive line.

I'm sure a lot of people are scratching their heads over why Staley wasn't named the starter, and frankly, so am I. Harris' shortcomings have been well-documented for the last few years and Saturday night's performance in Chicago was a microcosm on his career. On the team's first possession, he failed to get a block on defensive end Adewale Ogunleye on a failed third-down pass play. On the next possession, he committed a false start on third down.

Staley, meanwhile, was efficient against the Bears. The first-team offense's only touchdown of the night came when Maurice Hicks followed Staley and a host of offensive lineman into the end zone. Staley said that, should he ultimately be named the starter for the Sept. 10 game against Arizona, he wouldn't have a hard time fitting in because center Eric Heitmann is so good at making sure the offensive line is organized and knows their assignments. He also said he thought an announcement could be made later in the week. Until then, all he can do, he said, is keep practicing.

In other news ...

... Nolan said that Frank Gore definitely won't play against the Chargers. Gore said he would begin practicing this week and that, combined with next week's full slate of practices, he should be ready for the Cardinals game. He said he would experiment with a protective brace over his injured right hand. If he is comfortable with it, he could have it on against the Cardinals.

For the first time, Nolan gave a prognosis for rookie safety Dashon Goldson, who injured his elbow against Oakland on Aug. 18. He said the injury would take four or five weeks to fully heal. However, he said Goldson was the only player who will not be able to play in the season opener.

It looks as if several players will not be in the lineup against the Chargers. Tight end Billy Bajema (ankle), safety Vickiel Vaughn (shoulder) and cornerback Donald Strickland (chest) did not practice Monday. Receiver Darrell Jackson (hamstring) and linebacker Brandon Moore (thigh bruise) also did not practice. Jackson is questionable for San Diego. No word yet on Moore. Defensive end Bryant Young (back) practiced and might play.

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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