The Doman factor

The 49ers quarterback nobody is talking about much these days is Brandon Doman. But if the status quo remains the same in the months to come - that is, Ken Dorsey handling the No. 1 QB role while Tim Rattay recovers from groin surgery, with the team adding no veteran to the competition - then Doman is just a snap away from becoming the Niners' top QB. While many observers don't see Doman as a viable option, there are indications the third-year player could handle the job better than most think.

Doman looked fluid running the offense during San Francisco's first spring minicamp, and he is more of an athletic presence in the pocket than either Dorsey or Rattay.

While Dorsey is being touted as a legitimate option to be the starter and the heir apparent at QB even after Rattay returns, it's important to note that he barely beat out Doman in training camp last year for the No. 3 role behind Rattay and Jeff Garcia. Doman may have actually performed better than Dorsey last summer, but it was close, and the Niners went for the player with the most upside.

"I mean, it was a flip of a coin between him and Ken last year," Niners coach Dennis Erickson said. "We're fortunate that we still have him."

The Niners released Doman at their final cutdown to a 53-man roster last year, and he was picked up by Buffalo, where he spent part of last season on the Bills' practice squad before being released. The Niners signed Doman in February as insurance in anticipation that the team might be parting ways with Garcia.

Now, he has become much more significant in the team's quarterback equation.

Doman moves well, knows the system and can make throws on the run, though he still needs to prove he can rifle the ball down the field and hit receivers in stride. It appears likely he will get an increased opportunity to show the Niners he can do those things, at least through the remainder of this spring.

"He's playing with a lot more confidence," Erickson said. "He's been around the offense, even though he left. The thing with Brandon is that he has so much mobility that watching him play in a game is different than practice because he can create things like (Garcia) did. And that's why he was drafted where he was drafted (in the fifth round, compared to Rattay and Dorsey, who both were seventh-round picks). I'm exciting to see Brandon as we get into training camp."

And, when that time rolls around, Erickson may be getting more of a look at him than anyone would have thought.

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