Garcia questionable for Eagles

<P>Jeff Garcia continues to insist he will play on Saturday against the Philadelphia Eagles. The people who will make that decision don't seem so sure. </P>

Garcia has been downgraded to questionable on the 49ers' injury report with a rib injury, meaning there's a 50 percent chance he won't play Saturday when the Niners face a first-place opponent for the third week in a row.

Garcia was injured late in the second quarter during last week's 21-0 win over Miami. He was listed as probable after the game when X-rays revealed no damage. A CT scan Monday revealed what coach Steve Mariucci said was "sprained cartilage."

Garcia was held out of practice Wednesday when the Niners returned from a players' day off to begin preparation for the Eagles.

 "There's not a question in my mind that I'll play, but it's something that's going to be a day-to-day type of thing," Garcia said. "It's sore (Wednesday), but it's not any more sore than it was (Tuesday). I'm making sure I'm going to be sharp and crisp when I do get out there for practice."

Garcia, who has followed his Pro Bowl season of 2000 with an even more impressive season so far this year, has thrown for 2,910 yards and 25 touchdowns. He's the NFL's fourth-rated quarterback behind Oakland's Rich Gannon, St. Louis' Kurt Warner and Green Bay's Brett Favre. But with a playoff berth already secure, the 49ers are weighing the decision of whether to rest their invaluable quarterback with Philadelphia's seventh-rated defense coming to town.

"I suppose that everything that is occurring gets taken into consideration, our positioning in the playoffs, Jeff's health, which is first and foremost," 49ers coach Steve Mariucci said. "We just have to make that decision, how well does he feel, what other risks are involved, can he manage the pain, all those things we need to discuss. We're not there yet."

Mariucci said second-year quarterback Tim Rattay would start against the Eagles if Garcia is held out. Rattay, who beat out Rick Mirer for the backup job in training camp, has thrown one NFL pass. Mariucci said San Francisco would not alter its offensive strategy against the Eagles if Rattay replaces Garcia.

"Not at all," Mariucci said. "We're going to run our offense and our game plan isn't going to alter one way or the other. Tim Rattay's been here a couple years. If he needs to play, we expect him to play well. We named him the backup quarterback in training camp. He earned that job. If need be, we believe he'll play well. Again, we're not there. We are hopeful that Jeff will be playing. We'll make that decision later on in the week."

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