The Rattay Interview, Part I

In the first installment of a three-part interview with SFI, 49ers quarterback Tim Rattay discusses several topics: His resilience and perseverance in the long climb to become the team's starter; fighting through the several frustrating injury setbacks he has faced this year; what the highly-visible role means to him; and the responsibilities that come with the position.

Q: What was it like for you to reach the precipice of being the starting quarterback here, and then having to fight through so much adversity with injuries this spring and summer before you could assume the position and continue your development in the role?

Rattay: It was tough and frustrating. First, there was the excitement of being the starter and coming into minicamps and working extremely hard to get ready for the minicamps - you know, you work hard for every minicamp, but I had worked especially hard for this one, since I was coming in as the first-year starter and I wanted to be ready. Physically, I was in great shape and throwing the ball well and then I tore the groin ... It's frustrating. But there still was enough time to rehab it, and I just focused on that and did that. When I came in here (for training camp), the (groin) felt good and then I did the arm thing.

Q: How were you able to deal with that setback right as you were returning from the long process of your groin rehabilitation?

Rattay: I think mainly, like anything, struggles like that, if you can push through them, they'll help you in the end. It hasn't been easy, but nothing's ever really easy. So, I'm just trying to focus on that and, just like anything, if you get through it, it's going to help you, strengthen you mentally and physically, and that will help you in the end.

Q: Now that you've persevered through all that, has it added to your resolve to grab hold of the opportunity now and run with it, since you've had to go through so much to earn it?

Rattay: I think so, a little bit. I think everybody has had (tough) times and they've had to push through them. I was never like a big recruit or a star recruit (coming out of high school) or that kind of thing. So it just kind of makes you work harder, I think, and it has that little chip on your shoulder, I guess, in that you want to prove people wrong and stuff. I think it does help for when you go through struggles in a game, to be able to push through it. I mean, it's a four-quarter game. If you struggle early, you still have a lot of time to push though it and win the game. Games are always close in the NFL. If you go out and play bad in the first quarter, it doesn't mean you can't come through and win the game.

Q: Being the starting quarterback of the 49ers means a lot of things to a lot of people. What does it mean to you?

Rattay: It means the opportunity to play again, which I'm very excited to do. It's tough to be a starter all through college and then come up here and have to kind of learn how to be the backup. Game days are extremely hard, because it's just not something you're used to. It's an opportunity to play, and the best thing is the opportunity to help the team win and have that feeling that you're helping your teammates win the game. When you're not playing, you don't really feel like you're contributing. When you win a game, it's a great feeling because you know that you need everyone. That's why team) sports are so good. You just can't go out and shoot 4-under par - you do that by yourself. You come out here, you've got to have everybody. That's just the beauty of the game. That's the fun thing of being out there and being a part of it, because you come in the locker room and you know you helped the team.

Q: How do you view the responsibilities the position entails? Are you prepared to be a much more visible figure on the team now?

Rattay: It's just something that comes along with the territory, I guess. I'm more worried about just playing and trying to help the team. That stuff just comes along with it. I'm not real worried or hung up on that kind of stuff. I just want to play and work hard and prepare myself as best I can for the games and go out and give all I've got.

TOMORROW: Rattay talks about his development and maturation as a quarterback and the spectacular progress he made in three record-shattering seasons at Louisiana Tech University.

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