Rattay's return rusty in Vikings' 23-10 win



The San Francisco quarterback looked hindered by the forearm strain.
KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS
MINNEAPOLIS -- You've heard of a triumphant return? Well, this was the opposite.
Tim Rattay's first action of the exhibition season came in a 23-10 loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Friday, as the 49ers looked overwhelmed and overmatched as long as the first-team units were on the field. Minnesota's starters treated the 49ers as little more than a nuisance, out-gaining them 326 yards to 61 in a dominating first half. The 49ers remain winless in three exhibitions.
Rattay, in his return from off-season groin surgery and a recent forearm strain, played most of the first half and posted a decent statistical line -- 7-of-10 passing for 51 yards. But he looked hindered by the forearm strain, throwing short and sometimes tentative passes against a defense that never feared a deep ball.
Rattay's longest completion was a 19-yard pass to Cedrick Wilson. None of his other connections was longer than 9 yards.
"There's no question, Tim had some rust, which is to be expected," coach Dennis Erickson said. "Nobody can come in and be at the top of their game after missing that much practice and that much playing time."
Early performance
Rattay's first three drives resulted in a total of 9 net yards. The quarterback, though, hardly had the worst of it. The 49ers first-string defense barely slowed a Vikings offense featuring quarterback Daunte Culpepper and running back Michael Bennett.
Each of Minnesota's first two drives went for touchdowns, treks that woke up the lungs of the 63,960 fans that set a Vikings exhibition attendance record.
The opening drives covered a combined 109 yards and 11 plays as the Vikings faced only one third down. On that third-down play from the 17, Culpepper hit receiver Nate Burleson, who slipped free of cornerback Jimmy Williams and skittered in for the touchdown.
The Vikings' dominating first half conjured memories of the 49ers' previous trip to the Metrodome, last Sept. 28, when Minnesota strolled 35-7. In that game, Randy Moss had eight catches for 172 yards and three touchdowns.
Gained lot of yards
This game looked just as effortless for the Vikings, who ran over, past or around the 49ers' secondary en route to 543 total yards. Culpepper's second touchdown pass was a 26-yard beauty to Kelly Campbell, who beat cornerback Ahmed Plummer on the play.
"Our defense didn't play well. I don't think I played well," Plummer said. "It's one of those things where you have to go back to the drawing board and correct those issues that we have."
Overall, the 49ers managed four first downs to the Vikings' 18 in the first half. Erickson planned on using Rattay only briefly, but the quarterback stayed on the field for all but the final drive of the first half. Rattay had to stick around just to get enough work, since his first three drives went three and out.
The persistence paid off at last when, on his final drive, the 49ers put together the semblance of an offense. Rattay hit Wilson for 19 yards and engineered two more first downs to get to the Minnesota 34. But even that went awry: a sack, a holding penalty on Kyle Kosier and a near-interception ended the scoring threat.

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