#1 Posted on 10.5.04 0736.04 Reposted on: 10.5.11 0736.06
The 49ers' fortunes took an ominous turn on the first day of their first minicamp of the offseason when starting quarterback Tim Rattay tore his groin muscle.
"It's a serious tear," general manager Terry Donahue said. "There's a substantial amount of time he's going to miss."
Donahue would not speculate on how long Rattay would be out or whether the injury required surgery.
The 49ers will rethink the prospect of signing a veteran quarterback, something the team wasn't planning on before Friday.
The injury occurred while Rattay was rolling out to pass. He fell awkwardly after throwing the ball away.
"It's just a freak thing," Donahue said. "You watch on film and you can't imagine he could have torn the high groin area that severely."
Rattay left the field on his own and underwent immediate treatment. He talked to reporters before being whisked away for an MRI exam that bore the bad news.
"It's frustrating," said Rattay, not yet knowing the extent of the injury. "It's not a big deal. But no one likes to be hurt."
While the injury is disheartening and will deprive Rattay of needed work in minicamps, he should return by the start of the season and possibly even training camp.
Whether he undergoes surgery or not, preliminary indications are that Rattay should be back in 10 weeks, which would be one week before the 49ers are scheduled to begin training camp.
New York Mets catcher Mike Piazza tore his groin muscle in April of last year, and returned about three months later.
Piazza is a baseball player and not an NFL quarterback, and no one can guess what will occur in Rattay's case.
The 49ers are not prepared to say they are actively looking for a veteran quarterback.
"We have to have that discussion if this appears to be a long rehab progress (for Rattay)," Donahue said. "At this time, it would be premature to try and speculate on that."
Kerry Collins is a free agent who was released by the New York Giants. Collins has drawn the Raiders' interest.
Rams quarterback and former league MVP Kurt Warner is expected to be released after June 1.
The 49ers are lugging $28 million on this year's salary cap for paying off contracts of players no longer with the team. And as Donahue mentioned, veteran quarterbacks cost money.
"Before this injury we weren't particularly interested in a veteran quarterback," Donahue said. "We thought Rattay had earned the opportunity to be the starting quarterback and believed he could be a successful quarterback in the NFL."
For now, the starting job falls to Orinda native Ken Dorsey.
"That's why you got to prepare like a starter," Dorsey said. "It's the oldest cliché in the book but also probably the most accurate especially in the NFL because you never know what's going on."
With his local ties and success at the University at Miami, the mild- mannered Dorsey always creates buzz.
As a rookie drafted in the seventh round last season, Dorsey beat out Brandon Doman for the third-quarterback slot, but never took a snap in the regular season.
With his daily presence in the offseason workout program, the gangly Dorsey put on 15 pounds since last year and is now up to 220 pounds.
"You look at the positives, (the injury) gives Ken more turns," coach Dennis Erickson said before knowing the extent of Rattay's injury.
Dorsey was unaware of Rattay's predicament when caught by reporters after the second practice.
"Tim is one of the nicest, most hard-working people you will ever meet," Dorsey said. "I really hope he's OK."
When asked about being the starter, Dorsey said, "If I'm with (the starting team) I have to perform. My biggest thing is earning my teammates' respect and my coach's respect. If you do that, that means you are doing your job on the field."