Time to worry about Tim?

First it was the groin, now it's the groin and the throwing arm. Less than a week into training camp, is it time for the 49ers to start getting a little concerned about the status of Tim Rattay as their starting quarterback? "Not yet," coach Dennis Erickson said Wednesday, after Rattay missed his second consecutive day of practice with swelling in his right forearm. If the Niners aren't concerned, then why are they now holding Rattay out of practice until next Monday?

Rattay won't practice the rest of this week as a precaution after a Magnetic Resonance Imaging exam Wednesday morning revealed no ligament or soft tissue damage. Rattay began experience soreness and swelling in his throwing arm on Monday, just a day after he responded, when asked how his arm was feeling, "It's fine. My arm is fine. My right elbow is fine. It's getting into camp shape."

Rattay, obviously, has other parts of his body that also need to get into camp shape before he can resume his full-time duties as San Francisco's No. 1 quarterback, a role he held this spring for all of about one hour before he suffered the freak groin injury that forced him to miss the rest of the team's spring training schedule.

Rattay has made a relatively impressive return to training camp from a serious groin tear that doctors originally speculated could have kept him out well into the preseason – and perhaps even until the start of the regular season. Rattay admitted a few days ago that he's still not 100 percent, but is rapidly closing in on that figure as he has "been able to get my legs and arms working together."

Now the health of his arm is an issue.

Coaches have held Rattay out of padded 11-on-11 drills as he works back into playing shape, mostly to give him a little more time to shake of the rust and get his groin back into playing shape. But he often has looked ready to step back in, and his arm has looked wonderful, unleashing a series of crisp, strong and accurate throws.

As Niners coach Dennis Erickson pointed out, every quarterback's arm gets sore during training camp, when the workload is heavy. But not every quarterback experiences enough swelling in his throwing forearm to require an MRI. And not every quarterback misses what, for Rattay, will amount to almost a full week of training camp practice due to a sore arm.

"I think it's just an irritation you get from throwing," Erickson said. "It happens all the time."

Erickson mentioned that the problem could have something to do with Rattay still compensating for his groin injury, which apparently is bothering him again, since he also was listed on Wednesday's injury report as having left groin problems.

"As for his groin injury, he might be doing something different than he normally does," Erickson said.

Rest might be all Rattay needs. Then again, he's already had plenty of that the past three months. If he's having these kind of physical issues this early in camp, maybe the Niners shouldn't wait much longer before they consider re-thinking their plans at the sport's most vital position. Better to be safe than sorry, you know.

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