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QB out for 'substantial' period of time

SAN FRANCISCO -- The San Francisco 49ers got bad news Friday
evening when a magnetic resonance imaging exam revealed quarterback
Tim Rattay has a serious groin injury that may require surgery.

Rattay is being groomed to take over as San Francisco's starter
from Jeff Garcia, who was released this spring in a salary-cap
move. The fifth-year player was injured earlier Friday while
rolling out to throw a pass during the opening session of the
Niners first spring minicamp.

"The preliminary word is that he's had a serious tear of the
upper groin area," Niners general manager Terry Donahue said late
Friday. "And it will be a substantial amount of time that he's
going to miss."

Donahue said team doctors will take a closer look at the injury
this weekend and then discuss with Rattay and team officials
whether to operate. Either way, Rattay should be ready for the
season's start, according to Donahue, though he added that
"Unquestionably, there's going to be a significant amount of time
that's going to be involved with this injury."

Rattay is backed up by second-year player Ken Dorsey and
third-year veteran Brandon Doman.

Dorsey "will take over the reps of the No. 1 spot," Donahue
said.

Rattay went 2-1 in his first three career starts last November
when Garcia was out with an ankle injury. His passer rating of 96.6
and completion percentage of 61.9 were the best figures on the team
last year.

But Rattay has thrown only 164 passes in four NFL seasons and
the next four months are vital to his development.

"It's unfortunate for all of us, especially for Tim, because
he's worked very hard and came into camp in great shape," Donahue
said.

The Niners will wait to learn the severity of Rattay's injury
before deciding whether to bring in an experienced quarterback as
insurance.


The team only has about $1.3 million of cap room and limited ability to free up more room. That would mean they would have to convince Kerry Collins, Kordell Stewart, Jeff Blake or whoever to sign for close to the league's minimum salary. Another consideration would be Kurt Warner in June when he's cut by the Rams.

Aside from Rattay, the 49ers don't have a quarterback on
their roster who has thrown a pass in an NFL game.

Information from ESPN's John Clayton and The Associated Press was used in this report.