Niners drafting a different Dorsey

There must be some kind of mistake. Ken Dorsey, who went 38-2 as the starting quarterback for the best college football program in America, wasn't really still out there when the 49ers made their final selection Sunday with the No. 241 pick in the NFL draft, was he? The Niners figured Dorsey would go two rounds higher, so they snatched him and say those who discredit the leading passer in Miami history as a pro prospect have it all wrong. "We couldn't pass on Ken Dorsey," GM Terry Donahue said.

So the Niners didn't, bringing in a tall, rangy, dropback passer who had one of the best careers by a quarterback in the history of the college game. That means the Niners will have five quarterbacks on their roster when their first spring full-squad minicamp begins next week, but the opportunity to get a prospect such as Dorsey so late in the draft was something San Francisco just couldn't resist.

"It surprised us he was there in the seventh round," Donahue said. "Based on what we've seen from him, this was a good investment. I know he certainly has his doubters and people who aren't as apt to think he will be successful as we do. But I have a good feel for him. It was a good thing to do. Ken Dorsey has his own special way to get it done."

Dorsey had a poor showing at the NFL Combine in February, leading many observers to believe his success in college was just a product of the system. But the Niners had him in for a workout on April 13, and they were impressed by the things he could do.

Dorsey also said he has gained significant strength and muscle since Miami's season ended in January. Dorsey weight 189 pounds then. He weighs 215 now.

"We brought him in for a special workout and he was very impressive," Niners coach Dennis Erickson said. "Much more impressive than I guess he was at the other ones. When we had him in here, he had plenty of arm. He had really impressive arm strength and how he threw it. He's 6-foot-5 and (215) pounds. He's put on some weight. Then, visiting and talking with him about football, the guy is really bright. All I can tell you is what I saw in him. He has a chance."

Dorsey has heard all the negative talk and, at this point, isn't about to waste time worrying where he was taken in the draft.

"I'd be a fool if I didn't feel like I had something to prove," Dorsey said. "A lot of people passed up on me, and I'm just so excited about my opportunity right now with the 49ers, a great franchise and a team I've always dreamed of playing for. I'm really not disappointed or upset about where I went. I just feel like now I have something to prove, and I want to do that."

With starter Jeff Garcia recently turning 33 and backup Tim Rattay eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2004, the Niners are on the lookout for their quarterback of the future.

Dorsey will get an opportunity to get in line for that role, competing with Cade McNown and Brandon Doman for the No. 3 slot behind Garcia and Rattay.

And that competition begins immediately, since the Niners won't be taking five quarterbacks to training camp in July.

"The very worst thing that can happen is for us to get stuck without a quarterback," Donahue said. "We can't let that happen. That's the most important position in the game. We think he (Dorsey) can be a successful NFL quarterback."

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