SANTA CLARA — Rookie 49ers quarterback Nate Davis had to wait 16 weeks, but he finally got an opportunity this week to practice at his chosen position.

Davis ran the 49ers' scout team — using the St. Louis Rams' plays — against the 49ers' first-team defense this week, as backup quarterback Shaun Hill was held out with a sore back.

"It felt good to get out there and sling it around a little bit," Davis said Friday afternoon.

But Davis is likely to be back in his role as the 49ers' third-string quarterback for Sunday's season finale, coach Mike Singletary said.

"As of right now, (Hill is) still the No.2," Singletary said of Hill. "That's why he stayed out (of practice), so he could be the No.2. And if for any reason it gets any worse that that, Nate Davis will be No.2."

Hill is listed as probable for Sunday's game.

In previous weeks when Hill was available to practice, Davis saw more time as a wide receiver or defensive back during practices. This week was the first time Davis saw more than a handful of snaps at quarterback. He said he was able to stay sharp running the Rams' plays.

Davis said the Rams run a lot of vertical routes, so it was good practice in case he is forced into action Sunday behind starter Alex Smith. He said he believes he has a better grasp of the team's offense than he did in training camp when he saw significant action in the exhibition games.

"I'm a lot more comfortable than I was at the beginning," Davis said.

Davis said he is looking forward to the offseason. He spent about a half-hour before the 49ers' Dec. 20 game against the Philadelphia Eagles talking with quarterback Donovan McNabb on the field. He said McNabb invited him to Arizona to work out together in the offseason.

"We talked about just being a quarterback in the NFL and how he made it," Davis said.


Receiver Isaac Bruce will be in uniform for Sunday's game, Singletary said. But Bruce has not practiced since before the 49ers' Nov.22 game at Green Bay. He did not get any practice time this week.

Singletary said Bruce will go out for the coin toss "as an honorary captain" in St. Louis, where he played 13 of his 16 NFL seasons. Bruce might not play, or he could be on the field for the first play or the first series, Singletary said.

Offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye and Bruce would decide exactly what role — if any — Bruce would have in the game.

"I'm good with it either way," Singletary said. "I talked to both of them. I don't want to get Isaac in a situation he doesn't need to be. And I don't' want to put Jimmy in a situation where he has to rethink a lot of things. I don't want to do that, either. It shouldn't be that big of a deal."


Kicker Ricky Schmitt was not on the 49ers' flight to St. Louis on Friday, and Singletary said it was safe to assume a replacement will join the team for the final game of the season. The 49ers are expected to sign free agent kicker Shane Andrus today for Sunday's game. Schmitt sustained a left groin strain during warmups prior to Thursday's practice. Schmitt was signed last week to fill in for Joe Nedney, who is unavailable because of a hamstring strain.

Earlier in the day, Singletary expressed ambivalence about the identity of the new kicker: "I have no idea. I don't know. I don't care. I just want a guy that can kick. That's it. Simple as that. That's it."


Barry Sims will make his seventh start of the season at left tackle in placed of injured Joe Staley. Singletary said Staley might suit up for the game as a reserve but that decision would not be made until 90 minutes prior to kickoff.

Right guard Chilo Rachal, who was limited in practice this week with a knee injury, will definitely start against the Rams, Singletary said. Rachal made all but one start this season. When Rachal struggled early in the season, he shared time with Adam Snyder against the Houston Texans.

For more on the 49ers, go to Instant 49ers at blog.pressdemocrat.com/49ers. You can reach Staff Writer Matt Maiocco at matt.maiocco@pressdemocrat.com.