San Francisco 49ers: How Long Can Nate Davis Survive the Practice Squad?

Blaine SpenceSenior Writer INovember 10, 2010

Nate Davis
Nate DavisScott Boehm/Getty Images

Just yesterday promising OT Matt Kopa was signed off of the 49ers practice squad by the Miami Dolphins. If you recall, it was the Dolphins who last year plucked Kory Sheets off of the team's practice squad.

Sheets sustained an achilles injury earlier in the year and was released by the Dolphins.

However, another practice squad casualty of the team's was LB Larry Grant in 2008. The St. Louis Rams signed Grant, and although not a super-star, he is doing a solid job as the teams strong-side line-backer.

The team earlier this year lost LB Bruce Davis (Oakland Raiders) and LB Diyral Briggs (Denver signed him, waived him, and he has since signed with Green Bay).

Practice squad players come and go for the simple reason that they are not protected. As the name indicates they can practice with the team, but they are free to sign with any other NFL team.

After a team signs a practice squad player, they must activate him to the 53-man roster for a minimum of three weeks. This is one reason players aren't changing teams as quickly as Randy Moss in Minnesota.

As we get later into the season, that becomes less of a concern for teams not likely to make the playoffs, and of course teams depleted by injury.

Which brings me to the 49ers Nate Davis.

When Davis was waived back in September to bring in Troy Smith, it was widely feared that he would be claimed by another team. Davis survived the waiver wire and was placed on the practice squad where he has languished ever since.  

Now don't get me wrong, I am not advocating that Davis should be the starting quarterback just yet.

But why risk the chance of losing a player with Davis' huge upside, while another player that scares just about everybody—including the coaches—takes up a roster spot?

If David Carr is so bad that the coaches were afraid to let him throw the ball when he was in the game, and then bypassed him in favor of third-stringer Troy Smith for the London game, why keep him around?

The team needs to admit they made a huge mistake signing Carr and trading away Shaun Hill.

Once Carr is released, Davis can be promoted to the active roster before another team with nothing to lose takes a chance on him.

Troy Smith has shown great promise but still has much to prove. If he falters and the team is no longer in the playoff hunt, Davis should get a chance to show what he is made of.

We all remember what Davis did in the pre-season and how infatuated Chris Collinsworth was with him, but that was the pre-season.

The team needs to find out if Davis can make those 60-yard strikes in the regular season. It needs to find out about his pocket presence, mobility and his decision making skills before some other team does. The only way to do that is to play him.

After all, can a team that has had this many issues at quarterback really afford to lose the one guy that has more potential than two former number one draft picks currently on the roster?