Niners backup QB needs to act like a pro

Nate Davis, San Francisco 49ers (Getty Images)
Memo to Nate Davis: It takes more than skillz to pay the billz.
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Jason Whitlock

Jason Whitlock writes about the sports world from every angle, including those other writers can't imagine or muster courage to address. His columns are humorous, thought-provoking, agenda-free, honest and unpredictable. E-mail him, follow his Twitter or become a fan of Jason Whitlock on Facebook.


Mike Singletary might make me look like a prophet.

Remember my 2008 rants about Ball State football and a Heisman Trophy-caliber quarterback, Nate Davis? Remember my Fighting Cardinals starting the season 12-0 and making a bid to crash the BCS?

Yeah, you remember. I bashed ESPN and Chris Fowler for disrespecting the Cards.

Nate Davis reminded me of Brett Favre. People thought I was crazy. My critics worried I would turn Davis into my next Jeff George.

Well, it’s time. Hopefully you saw “The Nate Show” Sunday night on NBC. In the second half of the 49ers-Vikings game, Davis made Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth blush, gush and fuss over the QB’s cannon right arm and improvisational skills.

Early in the third quarter, when Davis escaped the rush and uncorked a 65-yard dagger to Ted Ginn Jr., everyone could see the limitless potential in San Fran’s 2009 fifth-round draft pick. Frisco’s third-string quarterback has more upside than Alex Smith and David Carr combined.

He also has more downside.

That’s why Mike Singletary justifiably tore into “The Nate Show” during his postgame press conference.

“Right now, Nate Davis is working his tail off to try and learn this system,” Singletary told San Francisco reporters. “But in the offseason, that’s when you take the time to get that done, and I’m not sure how hard he worked this offseason getting that done. So when I talk about work ethic, you just can’t turn it on and it off, and now come to training camp (and say), ‘Coach, I’m really trying. I’m really trying.’ You know what? The offseason when we were in the OTAs, the minicamps and all those things, that’s when you have to get that done.

“And that’s when you have to stay up and drive the coaches crazy and look at film and ask all the questions you possibly can. I’m not sure he did that. So right now, it’s a lot he has to get in a short amount of time. Hopefully, he can do that. I don’t know. We’ll see.”

Nate Davis is embarrassingly immature. He has no clue about the kind of commitment and work necessary to be an elite level quarterback. None.

He excelled at Ball State because he had USC talent and three coaches -- head coach Brady Hoke, offensive coordinator Stan Parrish and strength coach Aaron Wellman -- and an older brother riding his ass year-round.

In the NFL, you can’t devote three coaches to making sure Nate Davis does the right thing. Things move too fast on and off the field. The players have far more freedom and power. Nate Davis has to want to be a great NFL player. He has to want it 12 months a year.

You know what Nate wants most of the time? He wants to tell people he’s in the NFL. He wants to go back to his hometown of Bellaire, Ohio, and be treated like a star. He wants to hang in Indianapolis and pop bottles like he has Peyton Manning’s contract.

He’s young. He’s ‘hood rich. He doesn’t grasp the big picture. He has no idea that he won’t be the first or last quarterback with big-time talent to flame out because $500,000 felt like lifetime financial security.

Don’t be mistaken. I love the kid. He has a warm, friendly spirit. He’s a good person. But success in high school and college came too easy. And, like a lot of black quarterbacks, Nate is trapped between “keeping it real” with his leeching homies and accepting the fact that the quarterback position in the NFL is a buttoned-up management job.

Nate’s best friends should be Mike Singletary, offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye and quarterbacks coach Mike Johnson.



If you have a question or comment for Jason, submit it below and he may just respond.

The knock on Nate coming out of college was that he had a learning disability. He’d struggle to digest an NFL playbook. There’s a kernel of truth in that. He’s a visual learner. He’s not going to simply read a playbook and grasp everything the way Alex Smith does.

Put Nate on the field and he learns quickly. He has an uncanny feel for the game. It’s like watching Larry Bird play basketball. Bird could see things others couldn’t.

Singletary, Raye and Johnson know this. They recognize Nate’s potential. Singletary blasted the young QB in hopes that Davis would respond the way tight end Vernon Davis responded when Singletary lit him up two years ago.

Vernon Davis is a 49ers team captain now.

Nate Davis could be San Fran’s starting quarterback before this season is over. But there’s no reason for Singletary, Raye and Johnson to trust Nate right now. He hasn’t earned it. His level of commitment doesn’t equal Alex Smith’s.

Singletary was upset Sunday night because Nate blew a couple of pass protections and fell down for no reason one yard short of a first down.

It takes more than talent to be a winning quarterback in the NFL. Without the proper preparation, without the courage and discipline to carry yourself like a leader at all times, a quarterback like Nate Davis is talented enough to get you beat on Sundays and embarrassed the other six days of the week.

Yep, the Nate Davis love affair is going to be completely different from the Jeff George one.

Tagged: Falcons, Browns, 49ers, Alex Smith, Vernon Davis, Ted Ginn Jr., Nate Davis

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