Neck surgery for 49ers' Heitmann, 2011 in doubt


Neck surgery for 49ers' Heitmann, 2011 in doubt

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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.

49ers wide receiver Pierre Garçon handed hefty fine


49ers wide receiver Pierre Garçon handed hefty fine

The NFL fined 49ers wide receiver Pierre Garçon $24,309 for unnecessary roughness in last week’s game against Washington.

Garçon, who was not penalized on the play, lowered his helmet and struck Washington safety Montae Nicholson at the end of an 8-yard pass reception in the second quarter.

In 2013, the NFL passed a rule that bans the ball carrier from initiating contact with the crown of his helmet in the open field.

Nicholson’s helmet flew off and he remained on the ground for a couple of minutes. He was evaluated for a possible concussion and shoulder injury. However, Nicholson was cleared and he returned to action.

After the play, Garçon and Washington safety D.J. Swearinger exchanged words, and Swearinger took a swipe at Garçon’s facemask. Swearinger was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct.

The NFL fined Swearinger $9,115 for unnecessary roughness.

Ronnie Lott: Chance to show Dwight Clark how much we care


Ronnie Lott: Chance to show Dwight Clark how much we care

SANTA CLARA – In less than a year since a group of former 49ers players came together to form the Golden Heart Fund, the non-profit organization has provided valuable assistance.

“We’ve made some progress with the idea of knowing there are some people in need, so we’ve been able to make some grants to some of the ex-Niners,” Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott told NBC Sports Bay Area.

“We’ve been able to respond. This is more about us being able to give guys the ability to know they can have, as (former 49ers linebacker and Golden Heart Fund board member) Ron Ferrari says, a hand up not a hand out.”

The organization is in the midst of a fund-raising drive this week in conjunction with "Dwight Clark Day" on Sunday. The 49ers face the Dallas Cowboys at Levi’s Stadium, and Clark will be the guest of honor. More than 35 players from the 49ers' first Super Bowl championship team are expected to be in attendance.

Clark played nine seasons for the 49ers and provided the most memorable play in franchise history with “The Catch” against Dallas in the 1981 NFC Championship game, which propelled the organization to its first Super Bowl. Clark served as a front-office executive for a decade after his playing days.

In March, Clark announced he was diagnosed with ALS. He is scheduled to attend Sunday’s game and make some remarks at halftime from a suite.

“It’s unbelievable we are having an opportunity to celebrate an incredible day for this gentleman,” Lott said. “We can all say there was a moment in time in which we stood on his shoulders after making that catch. Now, we get a chance to lift him up a little bit and let him know how much we all care.”

Lott said Clark has been a champion of the Golden Heart Fund from its inception. Past and current 49ers ownership has supported the organization, which provides financial support for former 49ers players in times of physical, emotional and financial need.

“It’s the spirit of Dwight,” Lott said. “It’s more about the funds going in through his efforts. He’s paying it forward.”

--The public can made a direct contribution to the fund at GoldenHeartFund.org.

--Proceeds from the 50/50 raffle at Sunday’s game will benefit the Golden Heart Fund.

--Twenty-five percent of proceeds from the sales of Dwight Clark apparel purchased on game day will go to the fund.

--Half of all proceeds from admission to the 49ers Museum at Levi’s Stadium throughout the year will go to the charity.

-- On Sunday, Nov. 19, Levi’s Stadium and race grand marshal Roger Craig will host the first Golden Heart 4.9K Run with all proceeds from the event going to the Golden Heart Fund. Runners can register GoldenHeartRun.com.