Singletary impressed by Smith's work ethic

After adding Troy Smith to the 49ers' roster, coach Mike Singletary said he hopes Nate Davis will clear waivers and be signed to the practice squad.

The term "work ethic" is something that clearly resonates through San Francisco 49ers coach Mike Singletary. Troy Smith apparently has it; Nate Davis still doesn't.

So when the 49ers combed through the waiver wire Monday and saw that Smith, the 2006 Heisman Trophy winner from Ohio State, had been released by the Baltimore Ravens, it seemed like a smart move to sign him.

On his weekly radio show with San Francisco sports-talk station KNBR, Singletary said he spoke with Smith and was impressed. He said he expects Smith to push Davis Carr for the role of backup to starter Alex Smith.

"He's everything I thought he was in terms of work ethic," Singletary said, "and everything I've heard about him is really positive. He's a leader.

"To me, he's a very solid guy. He's a competitor, and he wants to be the best he can be. If nothing else, he comes in and adds to the positive energy we want here and the work ethic we want here."

Singletary said he's hopeful Davis will clear waivers and be signed to the team's practice squad. But clearly, Davis did not show the kind of commitment Singletary was looking for this summer despite his impressive throwing arm. Davis was on the bubble when the 49ers made their roster cuts last Friday.

"I really hope we're able to keep him because I think there's a lot here that can help him," Singletary said. "I hope in the future he can become the quarterback that we hoped he'd be when we drafted him."

PUNT PROBLEMS?: The 49ers were the league's worst punt-return team last season, but Singletary said he still hasn't decided who will handle the job of returning punts Sunday in Seattle.

The leading candidate would have been rookie Kyle Williams, but he's still out with a sprained toe. Ted Ginn Jr. will probably return kickoffs, but Singletary would prefer not to give him the added responsibility of punts. The job may fall to rookie Phillip Adams, who had a return for a touchdown against the Oakland Raiders two weeks ago.

"The fact we don't know who the punt returner is doesn't mean we don't have one, Singletary said. "I think last year we didn't have a punt returner consistently. This year, I think we have two or three. It's just a matter of who it's going to be."

BROOKS STILL OUT: Don't look for linebacker Ahmad Brooks to return for the opener. He's been out since Aug. 6 with a lacerated kidney he suffered in a blocking-sled drill. He said the sled bounced off the ground and pierced his left side, causing him to urinate blood.

Brooks hasn't practiced since the injury. Travis LaBoy, who had an impressive training camp, will likely take Brooks' job as third-down pass rusher against the Seahawks. Brooks, an outside linebacker, will also be considered for a backup inside linebacker job when he returns. The 49ers are carrying one fewer backup inside backer than usual.

Brooks said he hopes to return to practice next week.

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