Neck surgery for 49ers' Heitmann, 2011 in doubt

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Neck surgery for 49ers' Heitmann, 2011 in doubt

JUNE 29, 2011MAIOCCO ARCHIVE
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Editors note: Matt Maiocco is at San Jose State following 'Camp Alex,' as 49ers players gather to learn Jim Harbaugh's new playbook. Log on to his LIVE blog here for updates!
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Center Eric Heitmann, a mainstay on the 49ers' offensive line since entering the NFL in 2002, is expected to miss his second season in a row after undergoing recent neck surgery.Dr. Robert Watkins, an orthopedic spine surgeon in Marina del Rey, performed the surgery to repair a ruptured disk approximately four weeks ago, said Kenny Zuckerman, Heitmann's agent. Heitmann is currently rehabilitating in his home state of Texas.
"The bottom line is that he feels much better, and the pain has disippiated," Zuckerman said. "The tingling has decreased, and his hopes are to play as soon as he's cleared."This type of surgery generally takes approximately six months from which to recover, Zuckerman said. Therefore, it appears unlikely Heitmann will play this season. Heitmann's contract with the 49ers expires after the upcoming season.Heitmann, 31, sustained what was reported as a "stinger" early training camp last summer. Five days later, he suffered a broken left fibula that kept him out of action for the early part of the regular season.REWIND: 49ers center Heitmann out with leg fracture
After Heitmann's leg healed, he was unable to return to action because of his neck condition. The 49ers ultimately placed him on injured reserve on Nov. 2. David Baas, who remains unsigned, started all 16 games at center in place of Heitmann.MAIOCCO: Baas' long flight shows commitment to 49ers
Beginning in 2004, Heitmann missed just two starts in six seasons. He sustained a broken leg late in the 2006 season, forcing him out of the final two games of the season.Heitmann was named the winner of the Bobb McKittrick Award for three consecutive seasons (2006-'08). The award is given annually to the 49ers offensive lineman who best exemplifies the dedication, excellence and commitment of the long-time offensive line coach.Heitmann has played in 119 NFL regular-season games with 114 starts during his career after the 49ers selected him in the seventh-round of the 2002 draft.

Harbaugh goes Biblical, responds to Jacobs' criticisms of his coaching

Harbaugh goes Biblical, responds to Jacobs' criticisms of his coaching

Former NFL running back Brandon Jacobs spent one season with the San Francisco 49ers in 2012 under head coach Jim Harbaugh.

Jacobs only played in two games and gained seven yards on five carries. The results were nothing like his 5,087 yards and 60 touchdowns over eight years with the Giants. 

Apparently being pushed to the bench as a 31-year-old veteran running back didn't sit well with Jacobs. 

“Going somewhere where they don’t have route conversions into certain coverages was just absurd,” Jacobs said Thursday on the Tiki and Tierney Show. “They’re just running routes in the defense, getting people killed. Size and strength is what they had, and that’s why they won.

"Let’s be real. They had great assistant coaches, but Jim didn’t know what he was doing. Jim had no idea. Jim is throwing slants into Cover-2 safeties, getting people hurt. That guy knew nothing, man."

On Saturday morning, Harbaugh responded to Jacobs with a tweet to him. 

Harbaugh went 44-19-1 in four seasons as the 49ers' head coach. He also added five playoff wins and a trip to the Super Bowl in the 2012-13 season, the one that Jacobs played for him.

Shanahan: Brooks earns place on 49ers' first-team defense

Shanahan: Brooks earns place on 49ers' first-team defense

SANTA CLARA – The eldest non-kicker on the 49ers’ roster is learning a new position this offseason.

But Ahmad Brooks has plenty of experience adapting to new positions during his 12-year NFL career. He has played inside linebacker, outside linebacker in a 3-4 and defensive end in pass-rush situations.

Now, Brooks has moved to the strong side linebacker position -- the “Sam” -- in the 49ers’ new 4-3 scheme under first-year defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.

“He’s getting them (first-team repetitions) because he deserves them,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said this week. “Watching how he played last year and then going into this offseason, you never know when a guy who has been around a bunch, if they’re going to feel that they need the offseason like other people do. And Ahmad’s been here every day and he’s needed it just like everyone has anytime you’re learning a new scheme.

“But anytime you have a veteran like that, you worry that, hey, maybe they won’t think that they do need it. But Ahmad has and he’s been here. He’s worked at everything. He’s in good shape. He’s done what we’ve asked in the weight room with Ray and he’s done everything with the position coaches and coordinator on defense. So, I think he’s learning it and he should because he’s putting the work in.”

Brooks, 33, has entered the past three offseasons with his place on the 49ers seemingly in jeopardy. But the 49ers have not been able to find a younger, better player to replace him. Brooks has tied for the team-lead in sacks in each of the past four seasons with 27 sacks over that span.

Eli Harold, Dekoda Watson and undrafted rookie Jimmie Gilbert were the other players who lined up at the Sam position during the first week of 49ers organized team activities.

Brooks and Aaron Lynch, starters at outside linebacker for the 49ers in the previous systems, have the steepest learning curves in the transition to a new defense. Lynch has moved to the team’s pass-rush defensive end position, known as the “Leo.”

“I think techniques are totally different,” Shanahan said. “How you want to take on blocks, how you want to play the run. Ahmad has been around a little longer than Aaron. So he’s probably had a little bit more crossover, some similar schemes.”