Quarterback Jeff Garcia won’t play Sunday in the San Francisco 49ers’ game against St. Louis to rest his injured left ankle.
Tim Rattay will make his first NFL start in place of Garcia, who has struggled with several injuries all season. He has a partially torn ligament around his sprained ankle, and team doctors strongly recommended at least a week of rest.
“It has been a nagging injury holding me back every single week,” Garcia said Thursday. “Hopefully this will give me an opportunity to somewhat heal up, but it was not really what I was looking forward to, not what I was hoping for.”
Garcia’s streak of 61 consecutive starts, the fifth longest among active quarterbacks and the longest in San Francisco history, would end Sunday. The 49ers have their bye week after the game, followed by a Monday night game against Pittsburgh.
Rattay, a fourth-year pro, has played sparingly as Garcia’s backup the last three seasons.
Coach Dennis Erickson made his decision early to give Rattay plenty of time to prepare.
Rattay, who signed a contract extension with the 49ers shortly before the season, worked with the 49er first-string offense in practice this week. With Garcia’s up-and-down health this season, Rattay figured he would eventually get a chance to fill in.
“This week is nice because I get the reps in practice, so I get to see the different plays unfold instead of just standing and watching,” Rattay said. “Mentally, I have to prepare like I’m going to play every week regardless. Obviously, it’s easier when you know you’re going to play to prepare yourself mentally.”
Erickson doesn’t plan any reduction of the 49er game plan to accommodate Rattay, and there will only be minor changes in strategy.
“He can throw it. He’s got a good arm,” Erickson said. “He understands the game.”
Atlanta Falcon Coach Dan Reeves insisted he’s not pressuring Michael Vick to get back on the field, and the ailing quarterback bumped up his scheduled return by a week.
Vick, recovering from a broken right leg, said he hopes to be playing by the Nov. 30 game at Houston -- not Dec. 7 against Carolina, which he indicated a day earlier.
Reeves took issue with the media for the way his comments Wednesday were reported. He had said: “Mike needs to get back as soon as he possibly can” and “if he’s going to be better, it’s going to be getting in ballgames.”
On Thursday, Reeves said: “Never once did I indicate anything that was written, so you definitely had a different slant on it than I did.”
Vick broke his fibula in an Aug. 16 exhibition game. The bone has healed, but he has too much pain to cut as he runs.