Peterson thinks he'll still cash in

Updated: October 12, 2004, 10:54 PM ET
Associated Press

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- All-Pro linebacker Julian Peterson had surgery to repair his torn left Achilles' tendon Tuesday, ending his season with the San Francisco 49ers.

Julian Peterson
San Francisco 49ers
Tot Ast Solo FF Sack Int
25 21 4 2 3 0

Backup fullback Jasen Isom also had surgery for the same injury.

"Julian and Jasen each had surgery on their Achilles this morning and both went well," team physician Dr. Michael Dillingham said. "Each of them will be in a cast for six-to-eight weeks. We will begin the rehab process when the casts are removed."

Whether the injury also ended his career in San Francisco is uncertain. As he left the 49ers' training complex on crutches Monday, Peterson claimed he doesn't regret rejecting a $15 million signing bonus and a lucrative long-term contract from the club last summer.

What's more, Peterson still believes he'll command top dollar next season.

"I've made a lot of money," said Peterson, who sat out training camp before signing a one-year tender offer worth about $6.1 million. "I've already been blessed. I could have been making $10 an hour in some 9-to-5 job. If this team doesn't want to pay me, somebody else will."

Peterson's usual ebullience was dampened by the inevitable news of his upcoming surgery. The injury requires a lengthy rehabilitation period that can't be hurried, even by the linebacker's strong work ethic.

The two-time Pro Bowl player turned down a six-year, $37.8 million offer and staged a lengthy holdout in a futile attempt to become the NFL's highest-paid defensive player. Still, he had 2½ sacks in the 49ers' first four games despite reporting to the club just two weeks before the season opened.

"Julian was having an outstanding year," coach Dennis Erickson said. "His play and his leadership qualities will definitely be missed."

Peterson will be placed on injured reserve this week, Erickson said.

Peterson also apologized to Arizona's L.J. Shelton after erroneously blaming the offensive tackle for causing his injury with a low block. After watching film, Peterson realized he wasn't even touched when his tendon broke.

"It was just the way I landed on the heel," Peterson said. "When all the surgery is said and done, I'll come back stronger than I was before."

Peterson's injury is another obstacle for the 49ers' beleaguered defense, which has allowed an NFL-worst 137 points. Cornerback Mike Rumph probably will miss the rest of the season with a broken arm, while a dozen more contributors also have significant injuries.

Jamie Winborn, who will replace Peterson in several defensive sets, missed major parts of the last two seasons with injuries to his knee and neck, but now is one of the 49ers' few healthy defenders.

"Now I get a chance to help some of my teammates out," Peterson said Monday before climbing into Winborn's Mercedes. "This is my cheerleading time. Jamie had two years of this, so he said, 'If you need any pointers, I've got you."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press