September 25 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
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Starting guard Dave Fiore suffered a knee injury against the Redskins that will take him away from the field for about 10-12 weeks. Fiore is an integral part of the 49ers offensive line, not only because he is a starting player, but also because he has the flexibility to play every position along the line - and so when the 49ers lose a player along the offensive line, they sometimes ask Fiore to shift position.
The injury came on a play where Jeff Garcia appeared to have thrown an interception. Fiore tried to go make a tackle, but ended up on the ground instead. Mariucci challenged the ruling of there being an interception on the field, and won, so the irony of Fioreís injury, is that the play which he was trying to stop - wonít even go down in the game statistics.
Fioreís knee injury is the second of his career. He rehabilitated from the first one, which was when the 49ers actually signed him, and believes he can come back in even better shape after this three month rehabilitation program.
Replacing Fiore will not be an easy task. Eric Heitmann, who stepped in for Fiore against the Redskins is expected to start against the Rams. Veteran Matt Willig is still recovering from injury, but is expected to be available for the game. The 49ers may also try and add a veteran offensive lineman to their depth chart some time over these two weeks. A possible free agent candidate is Dave Costa who was with the 49ers all off-season.
Losing Fiore will be troublesome for the 49ers. The left side of the offensive line was already considered weaker at the beginning of the season. Itís this side of the line that is expected to protect Garciaís blind side too. And so while Eric Heitmann is highly regarded within the 49ers organization, the rookie will certainly have his hands full stepping in to the starting line up in his first season in the NFL.