How do the San Francisco 49ers plan to replace quarterback Jeff Garcia and wide receiver Terrell Owens? It appears that, through the preseason, they weren't quite sure.
Four quarterbacks got extensive playing time and 18 players caught passes in the preseason; Coach Dennis Erickson said he likely will keep six wide receivers on the 53-man roster.
San Francisco lost all four of its preseason games, the only team to do so.
The questions at quarterback are such that Erickson joked during a news conference that a writer from a San Francisco newspaper might play there. The next day, it was a writer from a different San Francisco paper. A few days later, he said that maybe linebacker Julian Peterson would play there.
Garcia (Cleveland) and Owens (Philadelphia) were not the only offseason losses. In all, the 49ers lost five other offensive starters -- at running back, tight end, another wide receiver and two offensive linemen -- plus their offensive coordinator.
The offense, such as it is, has two pretty good running backs.
Kevan Barlow rushed for 1,024 yards last year, and fullback Fred Beasley is considered one of the best blockers in football.
San Francisco's defense has potential. Peterson (94 tackles, seven sacks), a Crossland High grad, is the team's franchise player. He is expected to move around a lot this year, doing everything from chasing quarterbacks to covering tight ends.
But the defensive front is small -- only one of the eight players on the two-deep roster weighs more than 300 pounds. "That is always a concern," Erickson told reporters in August. "We are not going to try and take on double teams a lot. ... If we had to do that it would be hard, but we don't plan on making our inside guys sit in there and take on double teams."
Best Hands: Jerry Rice, 41, would have a chance to be the best receiver on this year's team.
Worst Hands: Elmo Boyd caught one-third of the team's touchdown passes to wide receivers in 1978. Which is to say, he caught one (Freddie Solomon had the other two). Boyd, the team's first draft pick in 1977 (third round overall), finished his one-year career with nine catches.
Grading This Year's WRs: Coach Dennis Erickson is keeping six receivers, which can't be a good sign. First-round pick Rashaun Woods will be good one day.
WR grade: D minus