Dorsey Takes No. 1 Status in Stride

Tim Rattay's misfortune could spell opportunity for Ken Dorsey. Dorsey, a former University of Miami star quarterback, was elevated to starting QB by the San Francisco 49ers last week after Rattay suffered a serious groin injury rolling out in an attempt to make a pass during one of the team's mini-camp sessions.

"That's why you prepare as a starter," Dorsey said. "It's the oldest cliche in the book, but probably the most accurate, especially in the NFL because you never know what's going on."

Although initial tests did not reveal a tear of the groin team officials, including coach Dennis Erickson and general manager Terry Donahue, believe Rattay could be sidelined for over two months. Rattay, who backed up former 49ers starter Jeff Garcia last season, was projected to be the No. 1 quarterback when San Francisco opens training camp in July.

Erickson said that the 49ers would sit down to discuss possibly signing a veteran free-agent such as Kerry Collins or Kurt Warner in hopes of filling the void. But for now the team will proceed with the quarterbacks on their present roster.

Enter Dorsey.

The 6-4, 220-pounder, who has never thrown a pass in an NFL regular season game, will now assume all the responsibilities of a starter until Rattay returns or the team signs an established passer.

But although Dorsey might be short on experience he has already established the same qualities that made one of the most prolific passers in UM history. Not known for his arm strength at Miami, Dorsey has displayed an ability to throw the deep ball and great presence in the huddle. The slender-frame right-hander also added 15 pounds through the 49ers off-season conditioning program.

However, he's taking everything in stride.

"If I'm with the starting team I have to perform. My biggest thing is to earn the respect of my teammates and coaches," said Dorsey, who was 38-2 as a starter at UM and established records in touchdown passes (86), completions (686) and total offense (9,486). "If you do that you know you are doing your job on the field."

Dorsey, drafted in the seventh-round of last year's draft, was San Francisco's third-string QB in the first eight games of the season last year before being deactivated for three weeks. He returned for the final five games.

"It was quite an experience for me. I picked up a lot of things from Jeff and Tim and used it to my advantage," said Dorsey. "I'm trying to be as prepared as possible because you never know when your number is going to come up."

Though there is some question about Dorsey's ability to move in the pocket the injury to Rattay could well press him into action.

"Tim is one of the nicest, hard-working guys you will ever meet. I really hope he's OK," said Dorsey. "But at the same time if the ball is handed to me I have to show these guys that I can get the job done."

At least for now.

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