Searching for More: Players Who Need to Step Up Through Preseason
Image Credit: The Chronicle
Following a pair of victories over the Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos to kick off the exhibition season, the San Francisco 49ers head to Kansas City to take on Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. The third preseason game is usually regarded as the “dress rehearsal” for starters in which they will see the most action. Head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch still need to see much improved play from a couple players before they are able to make their final roster decisions. Here is a list of players that need to make the biggest impact in Kansas City.
QB Jimmy Garoppolo
To say that Jimmy Garoppolo had a rough first outing against the Broncos would be a massive understatement. His final line was 1-6 passing for 0 yards, an interception and a 0.0 quarterback rating. Garoppolo looked understandably uncomfortable in the pocket and could not get into any sort of rhythm during his three drives. In order to rest the nerves of the 49ers’ organization and fanbase, Garoppolo needs to put together at least one scoring drive against a poor Chiefs defense in the very same stadium in which he tore his ACL less than a year ago. Much of the success and failure rides upon Garoppolo’s ability to prove he was worth the massive contract he was awarded following the 2017 season.
G Najee Toran
The depth along the offensive line is one of the bigger question marks for the whole roster. Backup guard Najee Toran has earned a pair of starts with Mike Person sidelined nursing a foot injury. His latest outing left plenty to be desired as he was flagged twice for holding penalties and was a major part of the porous pass protection. Former first-round pick Joshua Garnett is once again injured, undrafted free agent Ross Reynolds has failed to impress and Toran is squandering his opportunity. The Chiefs will be without their top three pass rushers from a year ago when the 49ers return to town and Toran needs to blow the coaching staff away to secure his spot on the roster.
S Adrian Colbert
Adrian Colbert quickly went from relatively unknown seventh-round pick to fan favorite during the team’s 5-game winning streak to end 2017. His hard-hitting style and big personality endeared him to the fans and coaches alike. Then during the 2018 season, Colbert’s play took a hard nosedive before he finished the year on injured reserve. He has only been able to muster seven total snaps in the preseason so far after being ejected for targeting against the Cowboys and missing the Broncos game with a hamstring issue. If Colbert wants to make this team, he is going to have to make a significant impact in the last two games.
WRs Kendrick Bourne/Richie James Jr.
Rookie wide receivers Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd have burst onto the scene through two preseason games. This has put incumbent receivers Kendrick Bourne and Richie James Jr. on notice as both are now fighting for their roster lives. Neither were particularly inspiring in the first outing but bounced back with solid performances against the Broncos. James has shown that his ability in the kick return game is a force to be reckoned with and he can be electric in space after the catch. Bourne, on the other hand, had a bad drop deep down the sideline before redeeming himself with a solid 26-yard catch-and-run and a touchdown catch with some fancy footwork to get both feet in bounds. Bourne and James could very well be fighting for the same roster spot and will need to push one another to prove their worth.
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