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Training Camp Battles Part II
July 6 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
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In part two of this series of articles I take an in depth look at an area of the 49ers that has been highly talked about this off-season. It’s an area where the 49ers have had plenty of players to choose from, and have already narrowed their choices. What are left is several potentially talented players, with little NFL experience, all vying for two roster positions. The position: Quarterback, where Jeff Garcia is about the only thing the 49ers are sure of.

As the 49ers head into training camp they expect to have three players behind starter Jeff Garcia. The team has already eliminated Aaron Garcia, and Billy Cockerham from the running. They let Rick Mirer go after last season, and are expected to part ways with Giovanni Carmazzi any day now. That will leave Tim Ratty, Cade McNown and rookie Brandon Doman fighting for the remaining two roster spots.

The 49ers hope that they will be able to re-sign whatever quarterback they cut from this group to its practice squad, that this season can hold an extra player (number six) if that player is a quarterback. General Manager Terry Donahue has pretty much ruled out the possibility of keeping four quarterbacks on the regular season roster, but has yet to state it as a complete impossibility.

Tim Ratty had to have thought his spot as the backup to Jeff Garcia was pretty secure this season. Sure the 49ers had brought in a handful of quarterbacks, but most were competing for the third string position. The drafting of Brandon Doman seemed to change that though, as he was the likely choice for quarterback position number three. After all, why would the 49ers draft a player if their intentions were not to have him on the team this season? The competition at that point began to shift from third string, to second.

It wasn’t until the 49ers traded a conditional draft pick for Cade McNown that Tim Ratty really had to worry. Those previously vying for Ratty’s position had no NFL experience. But McNown brought a fair share of NFL game time to the 49ers, something they worry that Ratty lacks. And so the competition is fiercer now than ever.

Of course, Ratty is light years ahead of McNown in terms of learning the play book, but McNown’s familiarity with the West Coast Offense from his days at UCLA should be of great help to him too. Brandon Doman too, is more familiar than McNown in the 49ers playbook. He’s had more time to study the offense, than McNown who has yet to take a snap in 49ers practice. But Doman, a rookie will have to give the 49ers a really good reason to look past McNown’s real life experience.

The battle for these two positions will likely come down to two simple decisions. The first will be whether Cade McNown still has the potential and ability that NFL teams saw in him that made him a first round pick. If not, the 49ers will have no problem releasing him. But if that glimmer of hope gives the 49ers reason and confidence to try and hold on to him. Then, the decision will likely bank on who the team feels they can sneak through the waiver wire and on to the practice squad. More than likely the answer to that will be Doman. Doman, thus, must show the 49ers a great understanding of their offense, and great ability in order to make him too good a prospect to chance.

Tim Ratty would likely have to be beaten out for his spot by McNown in order to lose a spot on the 49ers roster completely. That’s not likely to happen this late in the off-season. While the game time experience behind Jeff Garcia is minimal, the 49ers do have some interesting prospects at the position. In some people’s eyes, the prospects may even be worth an extra roster spot.

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