49ers to start Rattay at QB Sunday

Updated: October 31, 2003, 11:18 AM ET

SAN FRANCISCO - The San Francisco 49ers will give quarterback Tim Rattay his first NFL start on Sunday when they host the St. Louis Rams in a pivotal NFC West contest.

The Niners announced on Thursday that three-time Pro Bowl quarterback Jeff Garcia has a partially torn ligament in his left ankle, prompting doctors to suggest he sit out a week.

Unforunately for the Niners, that week comes when they play the Rams (5-2), who are tied with Seattle (5-2) atop the division. San Francisco (3-5) trails both teams by 2 1/2 games.

Rattay, a fourth-year player from Louisiana Tech, gets his chance after serving as a backup to Garcia for the last 56 games.

"I have been here for a while and I am looking forward to it," Rattay said of making his first start.

Garcia suffered the injury in the second quarter of last week's 16-13 overtime loss at Arizona. His streak of 61 straight starts is the fifth-longest among active quarterbacks.

Rattay completed 12-of-18 passes for 146 yards and a touchdown in relief of Garcia in a 35-7 loss at Minnesota on September 28. But he completed just 2-of-4 passes for two yards in the loss at Arizona.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index