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Niners’ Hearst Has Second Surgery

May 9, 2000

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) _ San Francisco running back Garrison Hearst’s second surgery on his injured ankle went well, the team doctor said Tuesday, but the 49ers are making no predictions on when he might play again.

Hearst, who ran for a team-record 1,570 yards in 1998, hasn’t played since he broke his left ankle on the first play from scrimmage in a playoff game at Atlanta following that season.

During a two-hour surgery on Saturday, doctors removed dead bone and cartilage from his ankle, and replaced it with a graft from his knee, said Dr. Michael Dillingham, the team’s physician. Hearst won’t even begin rehabilitation for a month.

``It is such an unusual case that we do not want to start making premature predictions about his playing status,″ Dillingham said in a statement. ``We will take a wait-and-see approach until the healing process really takes effect.″

Hearst’s recovery had been slowed by circulatory complications preventing sufficient blood flow to the damaged area. In such cases, bones can become susceptible to necrosis, the bone-dying condition that developed in Bo Jackson’s hip after an injury and forced him to retire from football.

Hearst already has undergone radical surgery to try to stimulate the flow of blood to his foot.

San Francisco filled the void left by Hearst’s absence by signing Charlie Garner before last season. Garner ran for 1,229 yards in his first season in San Francisco.

The 49ers also added a running back on the second day of the draft, using a fifth-round pick to select Texas-El Paso’s Paul Smith. He ranks fourth on the school’s career list with 2,539 yards rushing and he also ran for 16 touchdowns and caught a touchdown pass.

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