The San Francisco 49ers are a team with much more to worry about than the season opener against St. Louis after the death of reserve offensive lineman Thomas Herrion from unknown causes on Aug. 20.
San Francisco coaches will wear a patch on their shirts in Herrion's memory; the players will wear a sticker on the back of their helmets.
First-year coach Mike Nolan hasn't stayed pat with the team that finished 2-14. Four rookies started in preseason. Among the other changes, fullback Tony Ficklin was moved from linebacker; Rasheed Marshall moved to wide receiver after being a starting quarterback for three years at West Virginia; and former Virginia standout tight end Patrick Estes started games in the preseason at tackle.
Backup quarterback Cody Pickett also was a gunner on kick coverage and starting defensive tackle Anthony Adams was a fullback in goal-line situations.
"We have so much competition going on," Nolan said. "You don't want as much as we have right now because you would like to have more established starters and a lot more roles, but there is certainly some competition."
The defense gave up an NFL-high 452 points, though both starting cornerbacks and standout linebacker Julian Peterson were lost to season-ending injuries by mid-October. All are back this season.
Starting defensive tackle Bryant Young is the last player remaining from the 1994 team that won the Super Bowl.
On offense, tight end Eric Johnson had a team-high 82 receptions.