Alex Smith

49ers/Vikings provides chance to watch popular QB play

While many will tune in on Sunday night to catch a glimpse of Brett Favre, and many others will focus on continuing to find fault in Alex Smith, the 49ers’ second preseason game will mean far more to another quarterback.

Nate Davis has handled his business every chance he’s gotten in the preseason. And it’s led to a lot of skeptics/Davis-backers questioning the 49ers’ coaching staff. Are Mike Singletary and Jimmy Raye holding Davis back unnecessarily, only pitting him against third-string competition? Why does the one quarterback on the team who seems to do nothing but consistently move the ball downfield get dismissed as a work in progress whose youth and inexperience, along with a learning disability, make him unable to pick up the many nuances of Raye’s oh-so-intricate offensive scheme?

Singletary either wants to see how good Davis actually is, or he wants to quiet the fans clamoring for him, because according to Tim Kawakami’s Q&A with Samurai Mike, Davis is going to see action much earlier against Minnesota:

-Q: In the OTAs, you said Nate Davis wasn’t progressing as fast as you’d like or the other coaches would like. Where is he now on that?

-SINGLETARY: I think Nate, he’s a work in progress … you come out here in a situation of practice and a very controlled environment and he does well. But in a game, the situations that we put him in, he’s done pretty well.

But we want to put him in the game, in a situation where he’s playing against a little better competition earlier in the game. And see how he fares that way. But the protection part of it, just learning where the fire’s coming from, that’s the point that he has to get to. He has to be able to do that on the move, and so far, we’re just working at it.

-Q: So maybe you’ll play him earlier this game?

-SINGLETARY: Hopefully this game.

-Q: With the second-teamers?

-SINGLETARY: It’s possible. But just as early as we can.

-Q: Do you ultimately want Davis to play without the gloves?

-SINGLETARY: I don’t really care whether he plays with gloves or not, I just want him to be effective. But if gloves make him feel better, if he feels…

It has nothing to do with picking up protection, it has nothing to do with anything else… I mean, he throws a nice ball with them or without them. So that’s up to him.

Will Davis fling 30-yard lasers all over the field on Sunday against better competition, creating a full-fledged QB controversy? Will Jared Allen crush Davis’ spleen with a particularly nasty sack? Will Davis quit during his first series, throw his hands in the air and sink to his knees while tearfully screaming, “I CAN’T READ! I CAN’T REEAAAAADDDDD!!!!” Who knows, but seeing what he can do against non-scrubs is a better reason to watch a preseason game than most.

Niners Linkage

— It’s official: Favre’s starting on Sunday. (USA Today)

— Nate Davis is going gloveless these days, because centers have sweaty butts. You’d think that would be a good reason to wear gloves, but that’s why I’m the guy writing about this and he’s the one throwing 60-yard spirals without using the laces. (49ers Hot Read)

— Beanie Wells has some things to say about the 49ers being called the favorite by many to win the NFC West. “I think we can ignore them to a certain extent,” Wells said of the predictions, “but to be quite honest, I hate the 49ers.” (ESPN)

— Anyone who actually watched the first preseason game saw how good Reggie Smith was. Taylor Mays was also impressive at times. According to this report from Matt Maiocco, Smith’s improvement and Mays’ arrival might not be coincidental. Includes cool footage of Singletary showing the players how to get in position to tackle someone in the open field. No wonder everyone’s frightened of him. (Comcast SportsNet)

— Fooch asks, “How will you track the offensive line?” Good question, since it’s arguably the most important group to watch considering they’re integrating two rookies and already lost their starting center to injury. But how do you judge individual offensive linemen when the TV cameras always follow the ball? (Niners Nation)

— Diyral Briggs is pushing Travis LaBoy for a roster spot, intercepting an Alex Smith pass yesterday. Don’t get too excited, Smith haters. Matt Barrows also wrote that Smith had “a solid practice session,” albeit against the … wait for it … third-team defense. (49ers Blog and Q&A)

— While you’ll see a lot of Nate Davis on Sunday, and maybe even a little Favre, don’t expect to Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree, Adam Snyder, Kyle Williams, Brian Westbrook, Will James or even Frank Gore to play. That’s fine. I’m looking forward to seeing “a lot of Anthony Dixon.” (

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