Dorsey time

Ken Dorsey blew into 49ers passing camp Wednesday looking every bit like a young gun ready to take over as the main man at quarterback. Calm, collected and comfortable in his new role as the team's No. 1 QB, the second-year product stood strong in the pocket, zipped passes and displayed the mentality of a guy eager and prepared to handle the job. "It's an exciting deal for me, because guys look at me in that role and they expect things of me," he said. "Sometimes, you have to live up to that."

Dorsey has been living up to expectations since the day he assumed the tentative starter's role on May 7 when designated starter Tim Rattay went down with a freak groin injury at the first practice of the team's first spring minicamp. That thrust a whole new dimension into the team's plans for Dorsey's development, but he has rolled with the flow during the past four weeks and returned to the practice field Wednesday with a newfound assuredness and appreciation for what his situation demands.

After Rattay's unexpected injury, the 49ers did not go out and sign an experienced veteran, opting instead to let Dorsey handle the reins during Rattay's recovery, which is expected to last into August. That vote of confidence seemed to add to Dorsey's already swelling poise and buoyancy, and he looked the No. 1 part during team drills Wednesday, running the offense with aplomb and making several pretty passes.

"For me, it's an opportunity, and you've got to make the most of it," Dorsey said. "That's what it comes down to, living up to those expectations, living up to the point in which is set for you on this team, and that's really important to me. I think this league is reliant on the quarterback making the right decisions, and your teammates have to rely on you to do that. And when you're the starter, you're the guy that has to do that. Right now, that's me and it's my responsibility. And it's a big responsibility, because we have high expectations here."

Rattay's injury – he won't be back on the field until training camp, at the earliest – obviously changes things for Dorsey. But it isn't changing his approach, and perhaps is driving him to work even harder than before.

Dorsey makes it over to the 49ers facility just about every day during the week, spending his mornings running, passing and lifting weights followed by afternoon film sessions. His average day typically consists of about seven hours at team headquarters and some of that time, naturally, is allotted to eating. "As many meals as I can get down," said Dorsey, who is up to 220 pounds on his 6-foot-4 frame and "still going up, hopefully. And in all the right places. "

As the first quarterback in line, Dorsey is getting "a lot more reps out there now, and that's the big thing that has changed," he said. "It hasn't changed my approach to anything or anything like that. I still have to go out and do the same things, work hard and do that. The guys you are throwing to are different and things like that, but your approach has to stay the same. You can't try to do too much and try to force things. Sometimes you need to be boring; that's what makes you better and that's what opens things up."

Dorsey continues to display increased arm strength and is developing the fine art of touch on his passes. His synchronization in the system and reads also are coming along with his increased opportunities.

One of Dorsey's finest moments Wednesday came on a play-action when he set up and fired a deep spiral that hit receiver Cedrick Wilson in stride on a skinny post. It was a picture-perfect play that couldn't have been executed any better.

"That one felt all right," said Dorsey, smiling. "Out there today, I just felt a lot more comfortable than the last minicamp. I just felt a lot more comfortable throwing the ball with more confidence and things like that. And that's a huge aspect of being a quarterback, is having confidence in yourself. When you get in the league, everybody can play. You just have to have confidence in your ability that you can do it, and then go out and execute it.

"It's about making the right decisions. That's a huge aspect of being a quarterback, understanding where to go with the ball. If you know where to go, that's one thing, but actually doing it is the next (step) and that's where we're at."

Coach Dennis Erickson appears ready to take the next step with Dorsey. Erickson said Wednesday the team has "pretty much" ruled out bringing in a veteran quarterback, and that Dorsey will be The Man behind center for the Niners until Rattay is ready to resume the role.

"At this point, if Tim doesn't become healthy, then Ken Dorsey is our quarterback and I don't have a problem with that," Erickson said. "This is a huge time for him as far as the learning curve is concerned. He's getting a lot of turns, which is what he needs. He'll learn a lot in this camp and his growing curve will even go up when he gets to training camp and, of course, the preseason. We have to continue to see him work and see how much better he's going to get. I think he has a real upside to him."


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