STOCKTON, Calif. (AP) _ Linebacker Alex Lincoln, San Francisco's seventh-round draft pick, won't play for the 49ers this season because of a spine injury.

Lincoln, who played at Auburn, was sent home to Alabama on Thursday, the first day of the 49ers' training camp.

Lincoln felt tingling and numbness in his arms and hands during the 49ers' spring minicamps, and had progressively less movement in his neck. An MRI exam earlier this week revealed fibers in Lincoln's spine have torn loose and are causing pain, general manager Terry Donahue said.

``It's just really unfortunate, because this was an injury that was not sustained with the 49ers,'' Donahue said. ``I believe that Alex Lincoln will be back with the 49ers in January.''

Lincoln, who never signed with the 49ers, will need 2-to-4 months of rest and rehabilitation, but he won't need an operation.

``I think he's upset, but at the same time he's relieved to know what's going on,'' Donahue said.

The 49ers had hoped Lincoln would make their roster as a utility linebacker and special teams player. San Francisco intends to sign a veteran linebacker during training camp to back up tentative starters Julian Peterson, Derek Smith and rookie Jamie Winborn.