It's always frightening when a player collapses on the field. When it's an interior offensive lineman in a 49ers uniform, it's particularly scary. That happened this afternoon when right guard Chilo Rachal hit the ground with what turned out to be dehydration. I happened to be watching him at the time. He and an offensive tackle had just finished a pass protection drill against two stunting pass rushers. Rachal was returning to the line of scrimmage to run the play again. Offensive line coach Mike Solari was yelling his name, "Chilo! Chilo!" when Rachal listed a little to his left and went face-first into the grass.
He stayed down for about eight minutes before being carted into the locker room. Mike Singletary was standing above the guard while trainers were attending to him. According to Singletary, Rachal was conscious while he was down. "From the time I got over there, he was talking to Fergie (head trainer Jeff Ferguson) right away."
The episode, of course, brings back bad memories of Thomas Herrion's death in Denver in 2005. Two of the players looking on in concern today, Eric Heitmann and Tony Wragge, were next to Herrion when he went down in the visitor's locker room immediately following an exhibition game.
Wragge filled in for Rachal at right guard with the first-team unit today. It's not known how much time, if any, Rachal will miss because of the episode. He was getting intravenous fluid in the training room Tuesday evening. Fellow guard David Baas (concussion) promises to be out a few more days. Asked about the time line for Baas' return, Singletary said, "Whatever that time line is, we'll probably add a couple of days to it." Rookie Mike Iupati has been filling in for Baas.
In 2007 Michael Robinson had a similar bout with dehydration during training camp. In fact, Robinson's condition was so bad that he needed eight bags of IV fluid and some of his internal organs were starting to be affected. "I was so dehydrated that blood wasn't getting to my kidneys," he said at the time. Despite all that fluid, he didn't go to the bathroom until midday of the second day of the ordeal.
Robinson said he had incrementally been losing water since the first day of training camp and hadn't been replacing it. He began training camp weighing 227 pounds and had dropped to 214 on the day he fell ill in practice. The weather at Santa Clara has been warm and breezy, but certainly not hot. Apparently, that can be deceiving.
Other injury news: Rookie tight end Nate Byham sat out the afternoon practice. Byham suffered an ankle strain in Monday's afternoon session. He tried to tough it out Tuesday morning but was given the afternoon off. Joe Staley (illness), Baas (concussion), Patrick Willis and Justin Smith (veteran courtesy) also had the afternoon off. Matt Wilhelm played with the first-team defense at "mike" linebacker.
-- Matt Barrows