Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFL Nation [Print without images]

Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Can Nate Davis make like Vernon Davis?

By Mike Sando

Jason Whitlock's familiarity with Ball State football in general and quarterback Nate Davis in particular informs an interesting column on the San Francisco 49ers' third-string quarterback.

Coach Mike Singletary criticized Davis' offseason work ethic Sunday night.

"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," Whitlock wrote. "Vernon Davis is a 49ers team captain now."

The difference with Vernon Davis was that he always worked hard and cared about improving. His immaturity affected the way he reacted to situations. Opponents could bait him into losing his temper. The 49ers could not trust Davis to keep his cool and perform under pressure. Davis has grown up in that area and Singletary's brand of tough love gets much of the credit.

Quarterbacks are different. It's unusual for a head coach to call one out in public. Going that route shows Singletary's frustration, suggesting other tactics have not worked. The fact that Singletary would bother calling out Davis shows the coach thinks Davis can become a good player. We've seen glimpses of great promise during exhibition games. It's just impossible for Davis to succeed as a starter without holding himself to a higher standard.