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Erickson will tolerate Owens for now

Terrell Owens is a handful for any coach, but Dennis Erickson isn't sweating it.

Owens, the talented 49er receiver, missed all of San Francisco's voluntary minicamps in the spring. That's hardly the way to win points with Erickson, who took over as head coach in January, and his staff.

Owens has never been anything but high maintenance, but Erickson is going with the flow for now.

'It's no big deal,' says Erickson, who notes that Owens has been on hand for every mandatory meeting so far. 'As long as he shows up on July 25 (the first day of training camp), fine,' the former Oregon State coach says.

Owens is in his contract year, and Erickson hopes that the 49ers re-sign him.

'I would like to have him the rest of his career,' Erickson says. 'He is that good. I like him. I like his work ethic. I hope he doesn't leave. Where else is he going to get the money?'

nÊThe 49ers have added ex-Duck tight end Jed Weaver, who signed as a free agent after spending the last three seasons with Miami. Weaver will back up starter Eric Johnson and play when Erickson uses his double-tight end formation.

'Jed has looked extremely good,' Erickson says. 'He's a solid blocker with good hands, and he's a great competitor.'

• Phil Steele's College Football Preview lists Oregon State 31st and does not have Oregon in the nation's top 40. Steele predicts the Beavers to finish fourth in the Pacific-10 Conference and play in the Las Vegas Bowl. He projects the Ducks to place seventh in the conference.

The magazine has two OSU players as second-team All-Americans Ñ running back Steven Jackson and linebacker Richard Seigler. Oregon defensive tackle Haloti Ngata is a fourth-team selection.

Individual national ratings:

Kickers Ñ Jared Siegel, Oregon, third; Kirk Yliniemi, Oregon State, sixth.

Running backs Ñ Jackson, fourth.

Inside linebackers Ñ Seigler, fourth.

Free safeties Ñ Mitch Meeuwsen, OSU, eighth; Keith Lewis, UO, 11th.

Defensive tackles Ñ Ngata, eighth; Dwan Edwards, OSU, 36th.

Quarterbacks Ñ Derek Anderson, OSU, 11th; Jason Fife, UO, 42nd.

Offensive guards Ñ Kanan Sanchez, OSU, 14th; Joey Forster, UO, 18th.

Receivers Ñ James Newson, OSU, 16th; Samie Parker, UO, 42nd.

Tight ends Ñ Tim Euhus, OSU, 17th.

Defensive ends Ñ Bill Swancutt, OSU, 23rd.

Outside linebackers Ñ Kevin Mitchell, UO, 23rd.

Centers Ñ Matt Brock, OSU, 31st.

nÊBrian Kontak isn't giving up. The Nationwide Tour golfer still wants to play in the U.S. Women's Open.

The United States Golf Association rejected his application for the 2003 championship at Pumpkin Ridge because its bylaws require competitors to be 'a female at birth.'

'I didn't really pursue anything this year, but next year I'm definitely going to go through with it. There are a few (legal) issues I could go with if it goes to court,' Kontak tells The Globe and Mail in Toronto.

Kontak says he might press his case on the grounds of gender discrimination and his right to earn a living

And, he adds, 'if they're talking about gate and publicity and TV revenue, wouldn't you watch if I ÑÊor any guy ÑÊwas playing in the U.S. Women's Open?'Ê

• The 2004 U.S. Women's Open, by the way, could draw better than this year's event did at Pumpkin Ridge. The tournament will be played at the Orchards in South Hadley, Mass., and organizers say they hope to draw from 72,000 USGA members in the region.

• Ernie Kent's USA Junior basketball team is heading to the world championships in Greece with an unbeaten record. The University of Oregon men's coach coaxed five wins in six nights out of his select squad at the Global Games last week at Southern Methodist University. The team, which consists of players age 19 and under, will open the world championships Thursday against Slovenia.

• Hard to believe, but the Seattle Mariners say they'd love to see Ichiro Suzuki in the Home Run Derby at next week's All-Star Game in Chicago.

'I've watched him take batting practice,' Seattle Manager Bob Melvin says. 'I don't know if there's anyone who can stay with him. I really don't. He knows what he's trying to accomplish in batting practice. He's loose. He's as consistent in hitting balls into the right-field seats as anyone I've ever seen. He can stay with anybody.'

• John Christensen, the former Blazer media relations director, has hit it big in Southern California as media relations director for the Irvine Co., a real estate investment firm that owns resort properties and three golf courses. One of Irvine's projects is called 'Shady Canyon,' where celebrities such as Mark McGwire, Mark Langston and Jim Rome reside.

'I miss the people I worked with in Portland, but this is a great situation for me,' says Christensen, 39, who was with the Blazers from 1989-99.

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