Why Rattay won't play again in 2004

Tim Rattay and the rest of the organization believe his injury-plagued season was the result of his missing so much time that could have been used for offseason conditioning.

Because the 49ers can't afford to have their quarterback on the shelf again in 2005, the club has decided Rattay will not play in the final two games of the regular season.

Rattay's latest injury is a partially torn right plantar fascia, the tight band of muscle on his arch. If he tried to play again this season, there is a greater chance that he could completely tear the muscle. Such an injury would require six months of down time.

Rattay said his injury problems all are linked to the torn groin tendon he sustained during a May minicamp. The injury required surgery and a 12-week rehabilitation.

"Twelve weeks before training camp I was laid up with the groin injury, so that was time that I couldn't work out, lift and run," he said. "Then I start playing for four days and I'm missing another three weeks (with a forearm strain). That didn't allow my body to get ready for the season."

The 49ers plan to play second-year quarterback Ken Dorsey, who will start his sixth game of the season on Sunday against the Buffalo Bills.


--- Coach Dennis Erickson said he is convinced that he will return as coach next season.

"I've been told I'll be back," Erickson said one day after the 49ers fell to 2-12 with a 26-16 loss to the Washington Redskins. "Things can change. I plan on being the coach here next year."

Erickson is concluding the second year of a five-year, $12.5 million contract with the 49ers. Despite his confidence that he will be back, club sources are still saying the issue will hinge on the stance he takes with his coaching staff.

Owner John York has made it clear that he expects some assistants to be fired after the season. Erickson has been adamant that he has the coaching staff that he wants. He also has it in his contract that he gets to hire and fire his own coaches.

But where things could get interesting is if York asks him to part ways with some of his coaches, and Erickson refuses. It is possible that Erickson and York could reach a settlement to part ways.

--- The 49ers will have one of the top picks in the draft, and the organization has to determine whether to use it on a quarterback.

Quarterback Tim Rattay started nine games this season, and Ken Dorsey will make his sixth start on Sunday against the Buffalo Bills. But with all the problems surrounding the 49ers' offense it has been difficult to evaluate either player.

"We need to look at every position, that being one of them," Erickson said of the quarterback position.

Dorsey completed 20 of 38 passes for 206 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions in the loss to the Redskins. Rookie Cody Pickett will serve as the backup for the final two games, but Erickson said the seventh-round pick from Washington is not ready to play unless Dorsey goes out with an injury.

"It's not in the best interest of him or us to have him start at quarterback right now," Erickson said.

--- Erickson said he wants to see a lot of rookie receiver Rashaun Woods, the team's first-round draft pick, in the final two games of the season. Woods has caught just three passes for 67 yards this season. He was inactive for the 49ers' game Saturday against the Redskins despite being completely healthy.

There is also a chance that rookie receiver Derrick Hamilton, a third-round pick who has not suited up for a game this season, could take the game-day spot of Arnaz Battle, who is questionable for Sunday's game with a thigh bruise.

"You want to win, but if things are close we got to take a look at some of these (young) guys," Erickson said.

--- Rookie Keith Lewis came to the 49ers with a reputation for blocking punts, and he broke through to get his hand on one for the second time this season. Lewis blocked Tom Tupa's second-quarter punt into the end zone. When Tupa kicked the loose ball out the back of the end zone, the 49ers were rewarded with a safety.

Lewis blocked seven punts during his career at Oregon. He also blocked the first opponent punt he saw this season, breaking through to get a hand on Atlanta Falcons punter Chris Mohr's season-opening effort. However, because the ball got past the line of scrimmage the play is not officially recognized as a blocked punt.

"I feel physically I should be able to beat any defender who is trying to block me, especially when it is one-on-one," said Lewis, adding that he watches the punter, not the blocker, on such plays.

--- RB Kevan Barlow will regain his starting job from 205-pounder Maurice Hicks, whom coach Dennis Erickson believes is not big enough to hold up to punishment every down. Barlow missed one game with a concussion and was used in a backup role on Saturday to Hicks, who rushed for 139 yards in his starting debut.

--- DE Andre Carter, who missed Saturday's game with a sore back, was scheduled to meet with a doctor to determine the severity of the bulging disk. Carter missed six games earlier this season with back problems.

--- LB Jamie Winborn, who left Saturday's game with a shoulder bruise, is OK and might practice Wednesday, Erickson said.

--- QB Ken Dorsey sprained his left ring finger but did not miss any game action. He said the finger did not affect his throwing. It only hurt when he took snaps and handed off. He should practice Wednesday.

--- TE Eric Johnson led the 49ers with eight catches for 73 yards. He has broken both of Brent Jones' team records for receptions and yards receiving for tight ends with 77 catches for 780 yards.

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