Quarterback Nate Davis became a fan favorite after an impressive preseason last year. But today Mike Singletary said he wants to see more progress out of the second-year quarterback. "You know he's coming - not as fast as you would like," Singletary said after the team's OTA session today. "And not as fast as the coaches would like. But he's coming. I think the biggest thing with Nate is that we have to figure out how he learns and get that burning desire to, just whatever it takes to be out here and to get it done. I know he can do it, it's just a matter of him doing it. So, time will tell."
At one point in 2008, Davis, who played at Ball State, was believed to be a potential first-round pick. But his play dipped at the end of the 2008 season and NFL teams were concerned that a learning disability would prevent him from absorbing an offensive playbook. "I'm sure that has something to do with it," Singletary said when asked if Davis' learning disability has slowed his progress. "It's a continuation, a progression in terms of the coaches, the doctors, Nate, everybody involved just have to continue to work as hard as they possibly can to get him where he needs to be."
Davis, however, had his busiest OTA of the offseason, seemingly getting as many repetitions as the perceived No. 2 quarterback, David Carr. Davis said that the on-field work helps his progress. "I'm a very visual learner," he said. "So, yes, it is actually better when I'm out there. Even if I'm not actually in the play, I'm still getting the mental reps, seeing (the play) and everything, seeing the defense."
Davis said taking what he learns from the classroom to the practice field also "is coming a lot quicker to me. I'm out there playing football, I'm not just thinking the whole time."
Frank Gore did not take part in today's practice. He apparently ran into transportation issues on his way back from Miami. OTA absentees Manny Lawson, Nate Clements, Aubrayo Franklin and Shawntae Spencer did not take part, although Michael Robinson and Andy Lee - absent from the last OTA - were back. Lee missed the last session because he was expecting his first child. Ryan Lee was born on May 27th a 8 lbs., 3 oz. No word yet on whether he's right- or left-footed.
Patrick Willis took part in individual drills for the first time since having the bursa sac in his knee removed. That was a relief to Singletary. "Pat is not a very good guy to be around when he can't do things," the coach said. Also held back because of injury/rehab were CB Will James (fractured pubic bone) and RB Anthony Dixon (hamstring.) OLB Travis LaBoy did not take part in team drills. He missed last season after having foot surgery, and trainers don't want him to put too much strain on it early.
Some practice notes: Adam Snyder and David Baas lined up at right tackle and left guard when the first-team offense initially took the field. But rookies Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati also saw some time with the first-string offense throughout the morning. Singletary said that was because Mike Solari wants to give the rookies as many repetitions as possible. ... Snyder, meanwhile, took a few snaps at center today. That means the team has
four five linemen - Eric Heitmann, Tony Wragge, Cody Wallace, Baas and Snyder - who can snap. Snyder now has shown the ability to play all five offensive line positions.
Singletary confirmed the 49ers had no interest at this time in free-agent safety O.J. Atogwe, who is dating Singletary's daughter. "We're going forward with what we have," he said. "And we're happy with the safeties that we have now."
Singletary also said there were no plans to have a training-camp scrimmage with the Raiders as has been the case the previous two seasons. The teams play in the preseason and regular season this year. "I just think that this year we're just going to stay among ourselves ...," Singletary said.
Finally, there's been a trade .... The 49ers have shipped WR Isaac Bruce to the ST. Louis Rams for, well, for Bruce's retirement ceremony. The veteran receiver, who is second only to Jerry Rice in career yards, is expected to officially hang up the cleats on Wednesday. He will retire as a Ram.
-- Matt Barrows