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August 28, 2012
Gather round, rookies: Tolzien shares his fourth-game story


Scott Tolzien had a sit-down with the 49ers' rookie receivers and offensive linemen recently. His message:

"This isn't just the last preseason game before the regular season," the quarterback said of the upcoming preseason finale. "This is big for us. And this is our chance to get a lot of playing time and really show what we've been preparing for."

Tolzien also could have showed his game film from last year's fourth preseason game. Despite constant pressure from Aldon Smith, Demarcus Dobbs and co., the then Chargers quarterback was 16-23 for 226 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He also ran one time for 18 yards and finished with a 97.4 passer rating. The Chargers intended to put the undrafted rookie on the practice squad. But when they released him to do so, the 49ers pounced and placed him on their 53-man roster.

There's a considerable difference in salary between the practice squad and the active roster, and perhaps more important, in stature. Jim Harbaugh today said the 49ers had Tolzien on their radar before the fourth preseason game and intimated they would have grabbed him had he not had an eye-popping performance. But his outing certainly didn't hurt.

Undrafted receiver Nathan Palmer, who fretted the first cut-down on Monday, said he took Tolzien's message to heart. "He told me that game was a big game for him because it basically got him a roster spot here," Palmer said. "Having that film out there is really important for young guys like myself."

Tolzien, meanwhile, is battling Josh Johnson to be the 49ers' No. 3 quarterback.


• Jim Harbaugh said that Aldon Smith (hip) likely would play Thursday against the Chargers. Dobbs, however, was on crutches again today and is unlikely to play.

• The funeral service for Mario Manningham's grandfather is Thursday, which means Manningham won't play. Manningham will go into the regular season having played only one preseason game for the 49ers. "Is it enough? Is it not enough?" Harbaugh said when asked about Manningham's scant snaps. "I always like more. More is more."

• Cam Johnson (knee) said he planned to play against the Chargers. The seventh-round pick has yet to take part in a preseason game.

Palmer on how he handled the first cut-down day Monday. "I was a nervous wreck. I'll be honest about that. I was a nervous wreck. That was one of the nights that I didn't really sleep well here. It wasn't the fact that I was scared. It wasn't, 'Aw man, I think I'm probably going to get cut.'

"It was just -- you never know. And any time that you don't know, there's some kind of fear there. So my phone rang, my heart would drop. The phone buzzed, my heart would drop. If anybody called my name - it didn't matter who - my eyes got big. It was like, this could be it. But now that I've gotten through it, last night definitely was a better night to sleep."

The 49ers must remove another 22 players from the roster Friday by 6 p.m.

-- 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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