Niners' Heitmann has neck surgery, might miss another season

San Francisco 49ers center Eric Heitmann could miss his second consecutive season after undergoing neck surgery about four weeks ago, Comcast SportsNet Bay Area reported Wednesday.

Heitmann is rehabilitating at home in Texas after Dr. Robert Watkins, an orthopedic spine surgeon in the Los Angeles area, repaired a ruptured disk, the player's agent told the television station.

"The bottom line is that he feels much better, and the pain has dissipated," Kenny Zuckerman said. "The tingling has decreased, and his hopes are to play as soon as he's cleared."

Zuckerman said it normally takes about six months to recover from this kind of surgery, which would make it late November or early December before Heitmann might be ready to return. Heitmann's contract expires after the 2011 season.

Heitmann, 31, missed last season after suffering a "stinger" and a broken left leg during training camp and because of the neck injury, which forced him onto injured reserve in early November. He has started 114 games since the 49ers selected him out of Stanford in the seventh round of the 2002 draft and, until last season, had missed just two starts in six seasons.

David Baas, who replaced Heitmann as the 49ers' center last season, isn't under contract.

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