49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

September 7, 2010
Cutting Davis was a risk worth taking, Singletary says

Mike Singletary said the hope at 49ers headquarters is that quarterback Nate Davis, who was cut yesterday, passes through waivers so the 49ers can place him on the practice squad. "I really hope we're able to keep him," Singletary said on his weekly radio show on KNBR this morning. "Because I think there's a lot here to help him."

Because Davis was released late in the day Monday, the waivers system won't begin until today, and the 49ers won't know if he has passed until Wednesday afternoon. The 31 other teams all have a shot of picking up Davis over that span. Singletary called it "a risk we needed to take." If Davis clears waivers and lands on the 49ers practice squad, that presumably would bump quarterback Jarrett Brown off of it.

Davis was selected in the fifth round of the 2009 draft when then general manager Scot McCloughan had complete control of the draft room. He always was thought to be McCloughan's, not Singletary's, "guy." In the run up to the draft, quarterbacks coach Mike Johnson was asked to work with Davis - chart plays, talk Xs and Os, etc. -- to see if Davis' learning disability would prevent him from becoming an NFL quarterback. Johnson's assessment: He could do it. The 49ers drafted Davis thinking he would be a three-year project.

But after one and a half years, the project has been unplugged. Davis' learning curve did not happen quickly enough for Singletary, who began foreshadowing his discontent with Davis's work ethic following a June 7 OTA practice.

"You know he's coming - not as fast as you would like," Singletary said at the time. "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."

On Tuesday, Singletary spoke of his new quarterback - Troy Smith - in terms opposite to how he described Davis. Singletary said he liked Smith coming out of college in 2007. When Smith was released last week, he told personnel chief Trent Baalke he wanted the ex Raven on the roster. "He's a competitor. He wants to be the best he can be," Singletary said of Smith, 26. "If nothing else, he comes in and adds to the positive energy we want here, the work ethic we want here."

Many observers, including me, interpreted Singletary's harsh words about Davis over the last two weeks as being motivation. They were designed to scare Davis - whose physical tools were obvious - into being a more serious student during the 2010 season and, more important, the 2011 offseason.

It's clear now that there was true discontent with Davis, and that makes you wonder whether David Carr's status as the No. 2 quarterback is on shaky ground, too. After all, when asked about Carr last month, Singletary's first inclination was to say that the 49ers must do a good job of protecting starting quarterback Alex Smith this year.

Today he said he hopes Troy Smith, who played in a digit-based offense in Baltimore, pushes Carr for the No. 2 job during the season. "Absolutely," he said. "I think that's a very safe thing to say. We're always working to get better."

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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