NFC WEST Rattay intends to play at Denver
The injury-prone quarterback has a sore knee.
KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Despite a sore left knee, quarterback Tim Rattay took his regular complement of practice repetitions Thursday and remained on track to play in the San Francisco 49ers' exhibition Saturday at Denver.
Rattay worked with a protective sleeve over his knee, which he said has bothered him for the past two weeks. An MRI exam disclosed some fluid build-up, but treatment has reduced the swelling, and he said he has felt much better in the past couple of days.
"It's just camp knee. I'm sure a lot of guys are sore," said Rattay, who threw for two touchdowns in relief of Alex Smith in last Saturday's exhibition victory over the Raiders.
"It's totally minor," he added. "I've been practicing with it for two weeks and I've played on it. It's fine. No worries."
Coach Mike Nolan said he has no plans to alter his quarterback rotation, which will again lead off with Smith, the 49ers' No. 1 pick.
Rattay will follow, with Ken Dorsey scheduled to relieve him. Cody Pickett appeared to get more snaps than usual at Thursday's practice and could be available to finish up, if circumstances warrant.
Rattay had a series of ailments last season, beginning when he suffered a torn groin in his first mini-camp practice. He also had problems with his forearm and foot that limited him to nine starts.
But Rattay said his conditioning is much improved and that he has had no recurrence of the passing-arm problems, which he said gave him the most difficulty last year.
In a four-punt sequence at a practice earlier this week, novice return man Rasheed Marshall dropped three and bobbled the only one he caught.
Thursday, the team's fifth-round pick caught practically every punt to come his way, including a wind-blown kick he ran backward to get under.
The 49ers are eager to see if the former West Virginia quarterback can duplicate the performance in a game, beginning Saturday.
"Catching a ball out here, when there's nothing coming down to blow you up, is a different deal," Nolan said. "If we make them punt a lot, I would hope to see him do some of them. We need to see what he can do."
The 49ers are looking for a return specialist to free Arnaz Battle from his special-teams duties so he can concentrate on his job as the starting flanker.
P.J. Fleck handled the punt-return chores in the Raiders game.
Marshall, who broke Michael Vick's Big East quarterback rushing record when he gained 666 yards in 2002, is making the transition to receiver and return specialist. He handled a kickoff return nicely against the Raiders, but fielding punts remains a challenge.
"It's not going to come overnight," Marshall said.
"Being that I'm athletic, maybe I can catch on a little quicker, but it's still a lot of work that you have to put in."