It came as a big surprise when San Francisco 49ers offensive tackle Anthony Davis retired last year at the age of 25. But Davis said after his retirement that he was taking a break and that he would eventually return to the NFL. On Saturday, he made good on that promise when the NFL officially approved his reinstatement.
— Anthony Davis (@BamDavis_) July 25, 2016
Now that he has unretired, what happens next will be interesting. Although his agent said Davis and the 49ers have “patched things up,” he has probably caused more than his fair share of headaches in the front office. But before his brief retirement, he was developing into one of the league’s top offensive tackles.
The 49ers have a big need on the offensive line after Erik Pears, the man who replaced Davis last season, struggled mightily in 2015. To make matters worse, guard Jordan Devey was also subpar and left guard Alex Boone left the team in free agency.
When Smith was drafted, it was assumed that the air raid product would take some time to transition into an NFL quarterback. The Jets had recently signed former Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback David Garrard and still had incumbent starter Mark Sanchez on the roster, even though his 2012 season was a disaster.
“We drafted Geno Smith because he has exceptional talent,” former Jets general manager John Idzik said shortly after making the pick. “Let’s get him into a situation where we can help him develop that and let’s see where he goes.”
But Sanchez suffered a shoulder injury in preseason that landed him on injured reserve and knee problems kept Garrard from taking the field.
The likely scenario is that Fitzpatrick is the Jets’ starter this season, and that Smith sticks around as the backup. Bowles made it clear that Fitzpatrick has earned the job, even if Smith will try to make it a competition.
“You want to be out there,” Smith said on Thursday. “But you have to play the cards that you’re dealt and continue to get better.”
And he also knows that, even if he doesn’t start, he has to show he’s still improving.
“I’m auditioning for this team and 31 other teams in the NFL,” Smith told Darryl Slater of NJ.com.
If Smith can’t outplay Fitzpatrick to the point that he supplants him on the depth chart, the former West Virginia star could very well be in another uniform during the 2016 season.