SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Nate Davis is receiving a chance to keep developing into the effective, talented NFL quarterback he and the San Francisco 49ers believe he can be.
The third-stringer made the 49ers' 53-man roster despite coach Mike Singletary's criticisms during training camp and hints the 2009 fifth-round draft pick was on the bubble.
"It's really important that he really understands the skill set he has to have as a quarterback and not just sit over there on Sundays and wait for the offseason to come," Singletary said during a conference call. "I really want him to contribute, hopefully this year."
The 49ers released 22 players on Friday, but all their 2010 draft picks made the cut. That includes starting offensive linemen Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati, both first-rounders who earned jobs with the first-team offense early in camp.
Singletary said after Thursday night's 17-14 preseason-ending victory over the San Diego Chargers that Nate Davis would be a big part of roster discussions Friday -- but when the team let running back Michael Robinson go, it didn't have another option at No. 3 quarterback aside from the former Ball State standout.
"The ultimate conclusions really comes down to a guy, he's working at it," Singletary said. "I think he understands more now the degree that he has to work at it, becoming an NFL quarterback. I think he understands and he still does that, 'I really have to get this thing down, I really have to have control of the offense.' We're going to give him time to do that."
Singletary has said Davis, who has dyslexia, wasn't coming along as quickly as the coaches would like and he also questioned the quarterback's work ethic this offseason. Davis has said he spends up to 45 minutes per night studying the playbook because his learning disability makes it especially tough to grasp directions as simple as right and left.
"It's the same thing," Singletary said Thursday night of his issues with Davis. "The guy has a nice arm. It's the same thing I talked about last time. If you look at the notes you took last time, it's the same thing."
Robinson's departure was among the surprising moves. The special teams captain had spent all four of his NFL seasons with San Francisco.
"It was very difficult. As you can imagine, Mike exemplifies a lot of the character traits you want in a team player," Singletary said. "It came down to a decision based on productivity. We could just not fit him in on the offensive side of the ball."
Those released were: kicker Shane Andrus, linebacker Mike Balogun, quarterback Jarrett Brown, fullback Jehuu Caulcrick, tight end Tony Curtis, linebacker Bruce Davis, guard Brian de la Puente, tight end Joe Jon Finley, receivers Bobby Guillory, Jason Hill and Kevin Jurovich, tackle Matt Kopa, linebacker Keaton Kristick, safety Chris Maragos, fullback Brit Miller, defensive tackle Khalif Mitchell, cornerback Karl Paymah, Robinson, defensive tackles Will Tukuafu and Derek Walker, center Cody Wallace and linebacker Matt Wilhelm.
Some of the released players will be signed to the practice squad while others might find jobs with other teams or re-sign.
The 49ers plan to look for another inside linebacker with Wilhelm gone. Singletary said he wasn't going to keep someone just to fill a roster spot.
"I want a guy who fits the identity of our football team," said Singletary, who expects to have a playoff team this season. "My top priority is making sure the 53 guys on this team I feel are people who help us win football games."
San Francisco went 8-8 last season and is looking to end a seven-year postseason drought. The 49ers just capped their first unbeaten preseason since going 5-0 in 1992.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press