Pickett's play made decision plain

The 49ers already had seen enough from Cody Pickett this summer to know they didn't need to see more. They'd also seen enough to realize they couldn't try to sneak the rookie onto their practice squad in September, where the rest of the NFL could snap him up. So, the Niners made Pickett their No. 3 quarterback instead on Sunday in a move that was destined to happen anyway. There really wasn't any need for the team to take another exhibition look at Brandon Doman before making that decision.

So the Niners didn't. They cut Doman, their fifth-round draft pick in 2002, on Sunday as the team released 13 players to get down to the NFL-mandated 65-player roster limit.

"Brandon did well. He's a nice person. We just felt Cody, physically, really has some upside. So, that is why we kept him," 49ers coach Dennis Erickson said.

This is the second summer in a row Doman has lost out to the team's seventh-round draft pick in a battle to be San Francisco's No. 3 quarterback. Last year, Doman was edged by Ken Dorsey, who is now No. 2 in the pecking order.

That competition last summer - which went down to the final cut - was closer than this year's between Pickett and Doman. Once Pickett began getting more practice opportunities with starter Tim Rattay out with forearm problems, he began displaying his athleticism and superior throwing talent.

The difference between Doman and Pickett only became more obvious during preseason games.

"The thing about Cody, as we all can see, is that physically he really has a lot of talent and he has played well," Erickson said. "We felt like this was the best thing to do. He'll play quite a bit more against San Diego (on Thursday in the preseason finale), but we believe he is a guy that we can work with and develop because he has got skills."

There's a chance the Niners will attempt to bring Doman back to their practice squad, but Erickson said that decision won't be made until after final cuts are made next week.

--- In other significant cuts Sunday, the 49ers released punter Andy Groom, handing the punting duties to rookie Andy Lee, the team's sixth-round draft choice. "We decided, obviously, that Andy Lee is going to be our punter by that decision," Erickson said. "He was just better (than Groom) in this camp. It was just over what he has done through all the minicamps and training camp and all of it put together."

--- Kevan Barlow was back at practice Sunday, even after he sustained a minor hip injury in Friday's game against Minnesota that the team originally said would make him questionable for Thursday's game against San Diego. Barlow hasn't missed one practice all summer. "I'm glad to see him out," Erickson said. "That shows that he wants to play and wants to be out there. That was a very positive thing for him to be out at practice when he could have taken the day off."

--- All-Pro linebacker Julian Peterson made a good impression in his return to practice. Peterson ended his 28-day summer holdout by signing a one-year tender off with the team on Wednesday. "He looked awfully good and very athletic and fast and all the things that we knew," Erickson said. "Right now, it's a learning situation. It's hard to tell what kind of shape he's in. A guy like that doesn't get in too bad of shape. The football part of it is - and he may not get the football part of it until we play Atlanta."

--- Erickson said Peterson might play Thursday, but if he does, it won't be for long. "There is a possibility we'll play him a little to just get his feet wet," the coach said. "Playing a series or two won't hurt him, but to put him out there for a long period of time is not worth it for us."

--- Dorsey is expected to return from his back problems against the Chargers and "go in and probably play a couple of quarters at least," Erickson said.

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