QB position up for grabs?

The 49ers still consider Tim Rattay their starting quarterback. But Ken Dorsey will handle that role again this week against Seattle while Rattay's throwing shoulder continues to heal, and the starting position could be up for grabs if Dorsey gives the Niners enough reasons not to remove him from the lineup. "That depends on what happens the next three weeks," Niners coach Dennis Erickson said Monday. "As time goes on, you just sit and evaluate."

The Niners have a lot to evaluate, because Dorsey displayed the intangibles that make him a legitimate QB prospect against New Orleans on Sunday in his NFL start.

Shrugging off an 0-of-5 passing start, Dorsey settled down and got comfortable in the pocket and began showing the kind of cool leadership and clutch passing that has allowed him to climb to starting status this early in his career after he was an overlooked seventh-round draft choice in 2003.

After his slow start, Dorsey finished 18 of 27 for 205 yards and had several big throws that brought the Niners back from a 10-point deficit and temporarily put them in command of a game they should have won.

The Niners displayed a lot of offensive growth in that game, and they might want to consider continuing to grow around Dorsey, particularly since Rattay's injury problems could stretch well into October before his separated shoulder his fully recovered.

"I thought (Dorsey's) performance was really good," Erickson said. "He got into the feel of the game and got better and better. To start out with, he was a little shaky and made some mistakes. He held the ball a little too long. But once he started to get into the rhythm from the second quarter on, he made some really good decisions. The bottom line is that he took them down the field twice for two long touchdowns and had a chance at the end of the game to get them down there again had we not had some penalties."

As he did in relief of Rattay in the opener, Dorsey continued to answer questions regarding whether he is good enough to play in the NFL at the game's most important position.

"You know he has the intangibles from what he did in college," Erickson said. "But to take it on the field in the NFL, on the road against a darn good football team, and perform like he did speaks volumes. I believe he improved in a lot of ways. Can he do it every week? That's the next question."

Will Dorsey be given the chance to do it every week? That is the question facing the 49ers.

Erickson stated clearly that Rattay still is the team's starter, but the coach seemed to leave open a window that could lead to a scenario in which Dorsey takes over the job.

"If we were to do it tomorrow, Tim would be the starter and he'd get the job back," Erickson said. "If Tim was healthy this weekend, he would have started."

But that was then. This is now. And, when the Niners resume practicing Wednesday in preparation for the Seahawks, Rattay won't be taking part. And, like last week, he probably won't practice at all before Sunday's game.

"Until he can practice without having something on his shoulder, then he won't practice," Erickson said. "We can't do that to him. They seem to think that he'll get better this week. Right now, we are assuming that he will be No. 2, just like this week."

And, with Dorsey coming on, the Niners are at least considering that Rattay could remain No. 2 longer than that.

"Tim's only started four games," Erickson said. "We just have to see what happens as time goes on. I don't see how you can make that judgment right now."

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