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Marcio Jose Sanchez The Associated Press Wide receiver Austin Collie stretches before a Friday workout. The former Oak Ridge High School standout signed a one-year contract.

Despite concussions, WR Austin Collie insists he's ready to play

Published: Sunday, Aug. 4, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Monday, Aug. 5, 2013 - 4:22 pm

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers will tread lightly with new wide receiver Austin Collie during his first week with the team.

But it will have nothing to do with the concussion issue for which Collie is most known. Instead, the team will be cautious about the ruptured patellar tendon Collie, 27, suffered in Week 3 last year. It ended his 2012 season, and he's been doggedly rehabilitating it for the last 10 months.

"This first week, I think we're going to kind of ease into it a little bit," said Collie, who ran about a dozen plays in Friday's practice, his first with his new team. "But it's 100 percent. It's ready to go."

It's Collie's brain, however, that has sparked more concern over the last three years.

Following his breakout rookie season with the Colts in 2009, he suffered two concussions the next year that left him motionless on the field for several minutes. Collie had a third concussion during last year's preseason that caused him to miss the first two games of the regular season.

After practice Friday, Collie insisted he wasn't being reckless by resuming his career. If a doctor told him he was putting himself at heightened risk, he said, he would stop playing. That message has not been delivered.

"I have a pretty good self-awareness of where I'm at with my body," he said. "I'm a smart kid. I'm not going to put myself at risk. And every doctor I talked to said, 'You can play. You're ready to go.' "

Collie, who played at Oak Ridge High in El Dorado Hills and was named The Bee's Player of the Decade in 2009, said he had workouts with four teams before signing a one-year deal with the 49ers on Friday. Most of the workouts included neurological exams as part of the physicals they gave him, including the Jets, who, Collie said, gave him a "thorough neuro-psyche test."

"Like I said – passed 'em all," he said. "To be honest with you, I don't think I needed those tests to know that. I know where my head's at. Before I injured my knee, I was cleared to play. I knew I was fine."

The 49ers' medical director, Daniel Garza, is recognized as one of the league's top doctors when it comes to concussions and head injuries. Garza was on hand for Friday's practice.

Collie's chief concern is contributing and making the team.

Despite missing more than a week of training camp, he and fellow newcomer Lavelle Hawkins have an opportunity to make an impression at wideout, which has been a murky position for the 49ers since Michael Crabtree went down with a torn Achilles' in May.

Anquan Boldin will start at one spot. But no one has stepped forward at the other. Four of the contenders – A.J. Jenkins, Ricardo Lockette, Kassim Osgood and Kyle Williams – missed Friday's practice with minor injuries, while another, rookie Quinton Patton, has had a quiet role in practice because of a broken finger.

The 49ers must reduce their 90-man roster to 75 players on Aug. 27. Four days later, they must trim the unit to 53 players.

Read Matthew Barrows' blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers and listen for his reports Tuesdays on ESPN Radio 1320. Follow him on Twitter @mattbarrows.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

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MATTHEW BARROWS

Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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