What Nate Davis' release means for 49ers

The San Francisco 49ers' decision to replace third-string quarterback Nate Davis with veteran Troy Smith could reflect a couple realities:

  • SmithSmithDavis hasn't lived up to Mike Singletary's expectations on the preparation side, something Singletary addressed recently. That suggests Singletary couldn't trust Davis to play in a regular-season game. Re-signing Davis to the practice squad seems likely. While Singletary wanted more from Davis throughout the offseason, he suggested the second-year quarterback has been putting in the necessary work since camp opened. Davis could continue that work on the practice squad without using a valuable spot on the 53-man roster.

  • The 49ers can't be sure what they have in second-team quarterback David Carr. Smith could be a more palatable option than Davis if the 49ers needed a third quarterback for a regular-season game. Carr hasn't played extensively in the 49ers' offense and it's no sure bet he'll be effective, if needed, during the regular season. Smith has been around longer than Davis -- he started two games as a Baltimore Ravens rookie in 2007 and has 89 regular-season pass attempts -- and he's known for having leadership qualities. The Scouts Inc. evaluation of Smith calls him "an ideal backup because of his innate leadership and playmaking abilities" while noting that he's athletic enough to contribute at another skill position.

The 49ers appear to have upgraded in the No. 3 spot without necessarily giving up on Davis.