As the 49ers return to the scene of last year's special teams debacle, coach Mike Singletary announced plans for his upgrade in 2010.

Ted Ginn Jr. will be the punt returner Sunday when the 49ers open the season against the Seattle Seahawks.

The news came as no shock to Ginn, who indicated Friday that open competition was just for show.

"It's kind of been in stone," Ginn said. "They just wanted to try some other guys out and see what we had. But for the most part, I believed that it was my job."

The competition looked convincing to everyone else. For one thing, Singletary said as late as Aug. 30, "I would envision Ted Ginn as the kickoff guy, not the punt. Not for right now."

For another, Ginn returned only one punt (for 11 yards) -- in the exhibition opener -- and seventh-round pick Phillip Adams averaged 25.8 yards on his six returns, including an 83-yarder for a touchdown. Rookie Kyle Williams was believed to be in the mix, too, but he suffered a toe injury against Indianapolis on Aug. 15 and is ruled out for this week.

Even in naming his starter on

Friday, Singletary left himself wiggle room. He said, "It will be Ginn," before adding, "But it could be Phillip Adams too. We just have to think about it a little bit more."

Ginn said the job is best left in his hands. He returned 24 punts as a rookie in 2007, including one he took back 87 yards for a touchdown. But he began having trouble catching the ball cleanly, and the Miami Dolphins limited him to seven punt returns in 2008 and five last season.


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"It's something I've been doing my whole life. It's nothing that I can't do," Ginn said. "I enjoy it. It's just another way for me to get my hands on the ball."

Singletary said that experience weighed heavily in Ginn's favor. Part of the reason the 49ers acquired the former Ohio State star in the first place was because of their goal of boosting a league-worst return game.

Things hit a low point in Seattle last Dec. 6, when special-teams coach Al Everest arranged for a reverse on a punt, but Arnaz Battle botched the handoff to Brandon Jones, and the Seahawks recovered the fumble. No one from that exchange --Everest, Battle or Jones -- is still with the team.

  • Rookie safety Taylor Mays was in no mood for nostalgia as he prepared to play against his old USC coach (Pete Carroll) in front of his hometown fans (Mays grew up in Seattle).

    "It's already put aside," Mays said. "It's not something I'm concerned about. I'm not going home to go home. I'm going up there to play a football game. It doesn't have anything to do with the city of Seattle. It's a business trip."

    Mays had a few biting remarks for Carroll on draft day, when Carroll selected another safety, Earl Thomas, at No. 14, while Mays slipped to the 49ers at No. 49.

    Mays has since backed off his criticism, and Carroll said all is forgiven. On a conference call with Bay Area reporters this week, Carroll said Mays' comments came at an emotional time. "I love Taylor," he said. "He's a fantastic kid."

  • In a rarity, Singletary announced which players will be inactive Sunday. That's typically a game-day designation, but the coach said Friday that tackle Barry Sims, tackle Alex Boone and cornerback Tramaine Brock would be healthy scratches this week.

    Adam Snyder will serve as the backup offensive lineman for every spot but center, where Tony Wragge will be No. 2 behind David Baas.

  • The other inactives will be injured players Eric Heitmann (fibula), Ahmad Brooks (kidney), Will James (ankle) and Williams (toe).

  • With Brock inactive and James out, the 49ers will have only four healthy cornerbacks against Seattle: Nate Clements, Shawntae Spencer, Tarell Brown and Adams. Safety Reggie Smith also has corner experience.

  • Rookie Anthony Dixon might get a role beyond special teams this week. "Hopefully we'll have a chance to see him play running back," Singletary said.

    sunday's game
    49ers at Seattle, 1:15 p.m. FOX