Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

23 Aug 2005

Rattay Picked as 49ers' Starter Over Top Pick Smith

Mike Tanier talks, people listen. Tim Rattay is the starting QB in San Francisco, beating out #1 pick Alex Smith for the honor of being a first round Loser League selection. Adjust your cheat sheets accordingly if you're in a fantasy league deep enough where the 49er starting quarterback is on your cheat sheet.

Posted by: Al Bogdan on 23 Aug 2005

19 comments, Last at 26 Aug 2005, 11:47am by War n' Peace


by Sean D. (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2005 - 6:17pm

This is a totally stupid move. They should have let Craig Whelihan be the starter.

by ABW (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2005 - 6:28pm

So the only question is, does this affect the over/under on "first game the 49ers backup QB starts" at all? I was figuring it was around 3.5 with Smith starting, and that seems like a pretty reasonable estimate of how long before Rattay gets hurt again.

by Sean (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2005 - 6:30pm

This was a no-brainer, as Smith was completely uncompetitive when he was out on the field, while Rattay played well. Of course, Rattay has generally played well, he just doesn't stay upright for very long, and it's unlikely that he'll last more than a few games the way the 49ers offensive line has been blocking (or rather, not blocking).

by Ray (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2005 - 6:54pm

Wow, if only the 49ers had waited a year to suck, they could have had Leinart. We shouldn't write Smith off yet, though. He might just need some time to get up to speed.

by charles (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2005 - 7:21pm

See what happens when you don't let Bill Walsh stay active in your football operations.

by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2005 - 7:39pm

Wow, if only the 49ers had waited a year to suck, they could have had Leinart.


You think they're not going to have the top pick next year too?

by Ray (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2005 - 7:50pm

You think they’re not going to have the top pick next year too?


Of course they'll have the first pick next year. But no Front Office would spend two #1 overall picks in a row on QBs. They'll have to trade down to show that they're 'committed to Alex Smith as their QB of the future' or something. The only way the 49ers will see Lienart as thier QB next year will be if Smith gets hit by a bus.

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2005 - 7:57pm

The only way the 49ers will see Lienart as thier QB next year will be if Smith gets hit by a bus.
I see ways around that. Niners send Simth and their second-round pick to a team that picks later in the first but needs a QB (Ravens?), in exchange for their first. The trade partner will save money, first by not paying Smith's signing bonus, second by paying second-round money for (likely) the same guy they would have picked in the first. The Niners get Leinart.

Are the Niners that creative? Probably not. But not impossible.

by Arkaein (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2005 - 9:01pm

Starshatterer, I think that a trade might be difficult. Doesn't an NFL trade accelerate all of the signing bonus salary cap hit to the year of the trade? That would make a trade early in a moderately long contract prohibitive.

Also, I think that a lot more time is used to evaluate Alex Smith. It didn't seem likely that he would be NFL ready out of school anyways, given the odd offense he ran, so it will take a few years to be sure he isn't what the Niners hoped for.

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2005 - 10:24pm

Arkaein (# 9 )--

I'm not saying that's the best idea for San Fran; I'm saying they could do it if they wanted.

by Mike Nolan (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2005 - 10:53pm

You crazy internet people, I am 100% behind Alex Smith. In fact, I'm standing behind him right now, here on the corner of this busy San Francisco intersection, reading my bus schedule in a totally innocuous manner. Who is this "Leinert"?

by Bulldozer36 (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2005 - 11:57pm

Does it really matter who starts? Rattay is a decent QB but will get hurt behind the line giving Smith a few games to get to know the offense schemes better. With Smith starting, he'd probably do bad and Nolan would be pressured to start Rattay to win a few games who'd get hurt and Smith would come back in. Overall, theyre both gonna play the same amount of games.

by James, London (not verified) :: Wed, 08/24/2005 - 7:25am

Smith isn't going to be very good the fisrt few games he plays anyway, so why get him killed early? If the 49ers OL is
as bad as I've been reading, then better not to throw the rookie in first.

Whatever they do, this was a bad year to pick #1. If the 49ers had decided to go with Rattay, who should they have picked at #1? It wasn't like teams were queueing up to trade with them.

The upside is that next year they'll be able to pick up a decent OT.

by dryheat (not verified) :: Wed, 08/24/2005 - 12:51pm

I think Tim Rattay could be the 2005 version of Drew Brees. You know, with maybe 6 wins instead of 12.

by Dave Keller (not verified) :: Wed, 08/24/2005 - 2:57pm

Alex Smith will improve. The game moves a lot faster than he expected. He also needs to start eating chicken strips. They taste good but, more importantly, they turn so-so QBs into good QBs and good QBs into excellent QBS. Don't believe me? Brees starting eating chicken strips last season and look at the difference.

by Erasmus (not verified) :: Wed, 08/24/2005 - 3:04pm

Looking at Rattay's stats from last year, he threw 30 more passes then Big Ben in 5 fewer games. I thought that was interesting, of course with a team as bad as the 49ers last year-you would expect the QB to throw 57 passes like Rattay did against the Rams last season.

by Ray (not verified) :: Wed, 08/24/2005 - 4:08pm

RE: #8 Starshatterer

Yeah, they could try to make that trade. But it would take the 49ers front office stepping up and admitting they were wrong. When was the last time THAT happened?

Really, it's way too early to judge Smith (although it sure is fun). He may work out as a mid-season or 2nd year starter, and Rattay should be servicable in his stead.

What I see actually happening (or what I think SHOULD happen) if San Fran ends up with the first pick is that they do what they couldn't do this past draft and trade down for a bunch of picks to some team desparate enough for a franchise QB that they're willing to dump half their '06 draft class for Lienart. *cough*Baltimore*cough*Miami*cough*cough* Wooh, pardon me there. I must be catching a cold or something...

by Basilicus (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 4:44pm

You know, Rattay has not done that badly. He's had no weapons to work with since starting any games for the team and he's done okay in that time. I think he could step up like Brees, though a little less exaggeratedly. He's having a good preseason so far, though he's only thrown 19 passes. I also have this sneaking suspicion that Cody Pickett could eventually develop into a good starter. I was wrong on Doug Johnson and right on Billy Volek, so maybe Cody Pickett will be the tiebreaker as to whether I'm a genius or not.

by War n' Peace (not verified) :: Fri, 08/26/2005 - 11:47am

Stat adjustments.. I'm curious what other people did, but I summed Rattay's and Smith's projected numbers for Passing TDs, and Passing Yardage.. and gave Rattay 60%, and Smith 40%.. thinking Alex will be the starter by week 8 (a la Eli last year)

Other thoughts?