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WOUNDED 49ERS LOSE DENT FOR MOST OF THE SEASON

The San Francisco 49ers' season is already becoming a war of attrition.

In the first two games, four starters have gone down with serious injuries, including three offensive linemen.Defensive end Richard Dent, one of the team's most important offseason acquisitions, was one of the latest casualties. Coach George Seifert said Monday that Dent tore his right medial collateral ligament during a fourth-quarter pileup in Sunday's 24-17 loss at Kansas City.

Dent was expected to undergo surgery as early as Tuesday and could miss most of the year. Seifert said the team hoped Dent could return late in the season but that determination won't be made until six weeks into his rehabilitation.

San Francisco's decimated offensive line lost a third starter to injury Sunday when left guard Jesse Sapolu pulled his right hamstring while blocking on a field goal. It is uncertain how long the injury will sideline Sapolu, who was declared out of next Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Rams. Fullback Marc Logan also is questionable because of a sore right shoulder.

Sapolu joins tackle Harris Barton (torn triceps) and guard Ralph Tamm (torn arch) on the sidelines. Sapolu and Barton each went to the Pro Bowl last year.

Barton, expected to miss up to 10 weeks, and Tamm, out indefinitely, both were hurt in San Francisco's opening 44-14 win over the Los Angeles Raiders.