Rattay asked to lead 49ers into Green Bay

Nov 21, 2003 at 12:00 AM0


What's the significance of November 4, 1990? That was the last time the San Francisco 49ers beat the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Those were the days of Joe Montana and George Seifert. Since then, the 49ers have accumulated a pitiful 1-9 overall record against the Packers. Their one win was a comeback effort in an NFC Wildcard game at 3Com Park. Those are scary numbers to look back on for the 49ers. But you know what? That isn't the least of the 49ers' worries going into this game.

So it will be Tim Rattay starting once again at quarterback for the injury plagued Jeff Garcia. This Sunday, the 49ers will ask him to do something the team has not been able to do all year...win a road game. The 49ers have not been the road warriors that fans are used to seeing. That's right, they are 0-4 on the road this season.

The 49ers are about to enter a very tough stretch on the road. Not only because of the teams they play, but also because of the weather they will do it in. The 49ers will play 4 of their next 5 games in Green Bay, Baltimore, Cincinnati, and Philadelphia. With a record of 5-5 and with Seattle and St. Louis both owning a 2 game lead in the NFC West, every game from this point on is a must win if the 49ers wish to keep their playoff hopes alive.

It is clear that head coach Dennis Erickson is in no hurry to get Jeff Garcia back in there behind center. Rattay has been sharp in the first two starts of his career. He has beaten the heavily favored St. Louis Rams and shined in the Monday Night Football spotlight against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

In those starts, he has hit his receivers 40 times out of his 54 passes. That's a completion percentage of 74%. Not bad. Those completions have combined for a total of 490 yards, 5 touchdowns, and only one interception. Rattay also has a quarterback rating of 113.2.

To put this into perspective, in 8 games, Jeff Garcia has completed about 55% of his passes averaging about 190 yards per game with a quarterback rating of 72.0. In those games, he has thrown 8 touchdowns and 8 interceptions.

Is Tim Rattay the future? Is there any doubt? Is Tim Rattay the present? Well, according to Dennis Erickson, the job belongs to Garcia and he will be back in there once he is at 100%. Of course it is Erickson holding him out in favor of Rattay so it is his call on when Jeff will be declared 100%. If it were up to Garcia, he would be the one starting on Sunday. In fact, if it were up to Garcia, he would have been ready to go against the Steelers. However, you have to wonder what the call will be if Rattay leads the 49ers to a convincing win against the Packers. Unlike Garcia, who is more mobile and at times more jumpy, Rattay is calm and cool in the pocket and appears to be reading defenses with great ease. He is getting the ball down the field, which is not only making Owens happy, but also making coach Dennis Erickson, who favors the deap ball, very happy.

In Garcia's defense, he has been the victim of nearly every injury you can think of. He has also had the misfortune of playing behind a very shaky offensive line. The line is now pretty healthy and protecting Rattay very well. Plus, it does not hurt that the 49ers running game is moving into high gear. This takes a lot pressure off of Rattay.

The bottom line is that if Rattay continues to impress, there is no doubt that the quarterback controversy in San Francisco will continue to brew. The job is Rattay's to lose despite Erickson's claims that Garcia is his man. Garcia will have to earn his spot back not only by getting healthy as quickly as possible, but by playing better when he is asked to step in.

Surging Defense

While the Packers and 49ers are pretty evenly ranked offensively at 5 and 6 respectively, the 49ers hold the advantage on defense. The 49ers are ranked 8th in total defense compared to the Packers who are ranked 25th overall. Even with linebacker Jamie Winborn's season ending early with a neck injury, the 49ers defense played hard on Monday night against the Steelers. The defensive line is disrupting the backfield getting pressure on the quarterbacks and knocking down running backs for a loss.

Linebacker Julian Peterson is one of the players the 49ers must make a real effort to sign in the offseason. He has turned into one of the premiere linebackers in the league due to his natural speed, ability to read a play, and versatility. He can do everything from stopping the run to helping the defensive line with the pass rush and cover speedy receivers. He has become a leader on defense and one of the most valuable members of the team.

The biggest surprise on defense has to be cornerback Mike Rumph. A first round pick in 2002, Rumph was considered by many to be a bust after being the victim of many deep passes last year. However, this year he has held his own very well starting for injured cornerback Jason Webster. He is sticking to receivers better and not biting on fakes as much. Best of all, he is recovering nicely when he does make a mistake. He is not only playing harder, but smarter as well. Hopefully, this season is a glimpse into his bright future with the team.
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


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