San Jose Mercury

Stone, Deese expected to play
January 07, 2003

By Dennis Georgatos
Mercury News

The 49ers still have health concerns, but Coach Steve Mariucci expects almost everyone to be available for Sunday's second-round playoff game at Tampa Bay.

Guard Ron Stone and tackle Derrick Deese will play despite aggravating left-ankle sprains Sunday against the New York Giants, Mariucci said. Neither finished the game.

Stone and Deese will be limited in practice, as will kicker Jeff Chandler, who turned his left ankle while warming up Sunday. Chandler was given a painkilling injection, had the ankle taped and played through the injury, chipping in a 25-yard field goal.

Chandler said he expects to practice by Friday and will be ready for the game.

There is concern about safety Zack Bronson, who returned Sunday from a broken left foot sustained Oct. 14 only to be forced to the sideline in the third quarter because of soreness.

``During the game, it fatigued on me,'' Bronson said. ``I didn't expect it, but after being out so long, it just got tired.''

Bronson also will have limited practice and remains concerned over his foot. If he can't play, the 49ers probably would use John Keith and Ronnie Heard at safety, the same combination that filled in for Bronson on Sunday.

Still kicking

Center Jeremy Newberry says a win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and anyone else the 49ers meet in the postseason is a slam dunk.

``I told you that last week, and I feel like every week we're going to win ballgames,'' Newberry said a day after the 49ers rallied from 24 points down to beat the Giants 39-38. ``I like our chances.''

Unlike with his vow last week to kick the Giants' butts, Newberry didn't mention the Bucs by name.

``But if that's what you got out of it, that's what you got out of it,'' he said.

Newberry said he was trying to be more diplomatic because Mariucci asked him to tone down his remarks this week.

Giving thanks

Special-teams coordinator Bruce DeHaven began his meeting with players by acknowledging long snapper Brian Jennings.

``I said, `Brian Jennings, I'm sure glad you're on our team,' '' DeHaven said.

Jennings' flawless handling of long snaps contrasted with the disastrous outing by the Giants' Trey Junkin, who twice botched snaps during field-goal tries, including the potential game-winner in the final seconds.

Jennings said he felt some sympathy for Junkin, 41, a longtime snapper brought out of retirement last week as an injury replacement.

Vinny Sutherland will replace Cedrick Wilson as punt returner Sunday, DeHaven said.

Wilson muffed a punt at the 49ers' 8-yard line, and the Giants scored a touchdown on the next play.

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