Rattay injury is serious

One practice into the Tim Rattay era, and the 49ers already are scrambling frantically at quarterback. In his first minicamp practice as the team's starting quarterback, Rattay sustained a freak groin injury that may require surgery and could keep him out until training camp – or beyond. "The preliminary word is that he's had a serious tear of the upper groin area," Niners general manager Terry Donahue said Friday evening. "And it will be a substantial amount of time that he's going to miss."

Rattay was injured earlier Friday while rolling out to throw a pass during the opening session of San Francisco's first spring minicamp. "I was trying to make a throw on the run and hurt it then," Rattay said. "I hurt it and then I was kind of ginger when I brought my leg down. That is what happened when I fell."

After leaving the trainer's room after practice, Rattay said he didn't expect his injury was that bad. But a Magnetic Resonance Imaging exam taken later in the day proved it to be much worse.

Donahue said team doctors will take a closer look at the injury this weekend and then discuss with Rattay and team officials whether surgery will be necessary.

"When these kind of tears occur, there's always the consideration of either letting mother nature heal the injury or going in and trying to repair it surgically," Donahue said. "At this particular time, that decision has not been made. I don't think it will be made for a few days. But, unquestionably, there's going to be a significant amount of time that's going to be involved with this injury."

Rattay is expected to take over as San Francisco's starter this year from Jeff Garcia, who was released during March in a salary-cap move. Rattay went 2-1 in his first three career starts last November when Garcia was out with an ankle injury. Rattay's passer rating of 96.6 and completion percentage of 61.9 were the best figures on the team last year. But he has thrown only 164 passes in four NFL seasons and the next four months are vital to his development.

"It's unfortunate for all of us, especially for Tim because he's worked very hard and came into camp in great shape," Donahue said. "I'm sure Tim Rattay is certainly crestfallen tonight. There's no question about it. I know how excited he was about this opportunity and how hard he'd been preparing. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that he's going to be crushed. He's just got to come back and come back as quickly as he can. We need him back."

Donahue wouldn't put a timetable on Rattay's return, but the GM said, "at the start of the season, Tim should be ready."

The Niners had no intention of bringing in an experienced quarterback this year to compete with Rattay for the starting position. But that all could change now. Donahue said the team would wait to determine the severity of Rattay's injury before deciding whether to re-evaluate that situation.

"Certainly, we'll have to have that discussion if this appears to be a long rehab process and something that looks like it's going to run into the beginning of training camp or the beginning of the season," Donahue said. "At this particular time, I think it's a little premature to try to speculate on that because we really aren't quite sure except that we do know it's significant injury.

"Before this happened, we weren't particularly interested in pursuing a veteran quarterback for a couple of reasons. One, we felt Tim Rattay had earned the opportunity to be the starting quaterback and believe that he can be a successful quarterback in the NFL. The other is, a veteran quarterback is generally going to cost an awful lot of cap room and a lot of cash. We were not pursuing that and did not intend to pursue that. Whether or not we do (now) remains to be seen."

The 49ers don't have another quarterback on their roster that has thrown a pass in an NFL game. Rattay's is backed up by second-year player Ken Dorsey and third-year veteran Brandon Doman.

Cody Pickett, selected by the Niners in the seventh round of the NFL draft two weeks, is the only other quarterback on San Francisco's roster.

"Certainly, today, Ken will take over the reps of the No. 1 spot," Donahue said.

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