The question has been posed several times since April 26: What will the 49ers do with quarterback Nate Davis this season? The answer: It depends on Nate Davis. The 49ers currently have four quarterbacks on the roster, but in all likelihood they'll keep only three during the regular season. Shaun Hill and Alex Smith - barring injury - can count on roster spots, leaving the battle between Damon Huard and Davis.
The 49ers have said they intend to bring Davis, a fifth-round draft pick, along slowly. He threw a handful of passes during the team's rookie minicamp last month, but he hasn't taken any snaps in a team situation since. The lion's share of the snaps have gone to Hill and Smith; Huard has received the leftovers.
You have to believe that Huard would be a more effective quarterback than Davis this season if the 49ers were forced to go to their third quarterback. After all, he's a 12-year veteran who's started 21 games in the last three seasons . But could the 49ers risk placing Davis on the practice squad? Players on the practice squad are free to jump to teams who want to sign them to their active rosters. If, for example, the Broncos ran into quarterback issues by midseason, they could grab Davis off the 49ers' practice squad.
That's why it depends on Davis. Whether he lands on the practice squad rests on how much exposure he gets during the preseason. And that will depend on how quickly he picks up Jimmy Raye's offense this month and next. If he comes on like gangbusters, gets plenty of playing time and shows potential in preseason games A.) the 49ers will feel more confident having him as their third quarterback and B.) could not risk putting him on the practice squad because other teams will have seen Davis' potential. If he progresses slowly and gets only scant playing time in the preseason, the practice squad becomes a real option.
Let's say Davis does land on the practice squad and another team comes calling. It's not automatic that he jumps ship. First of all, the 49ers likely would get a signal from Davis' agent that other teams are sniffing around his client. That might prompt the 49ers to move Davis to the active roster where he'd be protected. (They did this with Damane Duckett a few seasons back). Or Davis could choose not to sign with the team that wants him. (Marcus Maxwell did just that a few seasons back). He would make considerably more money on a team's active roster than he would on the 49ers' practice squad. But he would have to ask himself whether his long-term prospects are better with another team. The 49ers obviously like him, quarterbacks coach Mike Johnson obviously believes in him, and Damon Huard turns 36 next month. As of right now, Davis' future seems brightest in San Francisco, er, Santa Clara.
Speaking of Santa Clara, ticket holder Matt Boyer of Pismo Beach wants to know what the tailgating situation will be like if a new stadium is built in Santa Clara. For Boyer, the tailgating atmosphere at Candlestick -- the three B's: bbq, beer, babes -- is one of the reasons why his four-hour drive is worth the time and effort
Answer: I can only imagine that it's going to be very good. For one thing, the weather definitely will be better. I've lived all over the country - D.C., Charlottesville, Va., Chicago, South Carolina, Sacramento, Santa Clara and San Jose - and the South Bay weather is by far the best. It tends to be a tad windy and you may have to chase down an escaping napkin from time to time. But it's nothing like the frigid swirling winds of Candlestick.
The other reason is that the parking lots on which the stadium is slated to be built are massive (see: below). As of right now, the stadium is to go on the smaller of the two lots, which would leave the bigger Great America lot for most of the parking. Some people may have to park in nearby technology park parking lots and others in the garage across the street, and their tailgating opportunities might not be as good. But in the main lots, I have to believe tailgating will be as good and probably better than they are at the 'Stick.
Here's a column I wrote in today's Bee that looks at how pragmatism has trumped romance as far as the stadium situation. And here's a video I shot last year of the stadium site:
-- Matt Barrows