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August 9, 2010
Singletary stops practice early as players hit 'the wall'

Mike Singletary said he's been expecting a day like this. After a demanding first week of training camp, he said, he anticipated a day when the 49ers' minds and bodies would slow down and their play would lag. "It was that wall day, hump day," Singletary said after he curtailed the morning practice. "And you've got to work your way through that wall. And we didn't handle that very well today."

Several players were injured and two - center Eric Heitmann and linebacker Martail Burnett - ominously left the field via cart. Singletary stopped what had become a sloppy practice and gave the team the option of quitting early. They said they wanted to finish, so Singletary sent them out for a two-minute drill, one of the last sessions of the day. But when Parys Haralson crashed into quarterback David Carr's leg, Singletary gathered the team for the day and ended practice.

Singletary challenged his team to rally for the afternoon practice. Asked whether he expects that to happen, he said, "I don't know that, but we'll find out."

Here are the injuries, with a bit of analysis on each.

Heitmann: He injured his left leg on a running play and limped off the field. After examining him on the sideline, trainers carted him off the field. David Baas was sent in as the first-team starting center. Tony Wragge had gotten plenty of work at the position when Baas was out with a concussion, and Singletary said the team now wanted to get Baas up to speed. Baas is now the second-team left guard behind Mike Iupati, Singletary confirmed. (Anthony Davis also is a starter; see below). The last time Baas practiced extensively at center was 2006; he started nine games at center as a senior at Michigan.

Martail Burnett suffered a knee sprain when he turned up field to chase Vernon Davis on a pass play. Burnett is an outside linebacker, one of the positions hit hardest by injury. Travis LaBoy continues to sit out with a concussion while Ahmad Brooks is dealing with a lacerated kidney. (Singletary indicated that Brooks' injury was not on the severe end of the spectrum). Singletary said it was possible the team would add another outside linebacker to the roster.

Joe Staley suffered a neck sprain. Barry Sims filled in with the first-team offensive line at left tackle.

Josh Morgan said he jammed his neck after colliding with Dashon Goldon following a deep reception. His neck was stiff afterward, but he seemed to be ok.

LeRoy Vann was released this morning. Kyle Williams and Ted Ginn got most of the work returning punts, but Reggie Smith also took some repetitions. Smith returned punts at Oklahoma and took some practice repetitions last year. Brandon Jones continued to rehabilitate a sore hamstring.

In addition, Matt Wilhelm took most of Patrick Willis' snaps at "mike" linebacker to allow Willis some rest.

Finally - and how's this for burying the lead? - Singletary confirmed that his two first-round picks had indeed taken over starting positions. He said things can change - "Nothing's permanent," he said - but as of now the plan is to give both Davis and Iupati as much practice time as possible in anticipation of them beginning the season as starters.

"Right now talking with Jimmy Raye and Mike Solari, we made the decision to go ahead. We feel that we've seen enough. They've shown the ability to step in and be able to do it. If that's the case, we have to give them the reps they need."

-- 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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