Players to Watch for in 49ers First Preseason Game
Image Credit: USA TODAY Sports
During training camp, we hear countless reports about players and how they have been performing in practice. Every year we hear about players who reportedly look like the best players on the field e.g.,49ers practice legend Trent Taylor, only to disappear during games. As Allen Iverson put it in his famous rant:“We talking about practice. Not a game. Not the game that I go out there and die for and play every game like it's my last. Not the game. We talking about practice, man." Well, the time is finally here that we get to see some NFL football. This Saturday the 49ers will face the Kansas City Chiefs in their first preseason game, and we will get to see if the players we’ve heard about this offseason are going to perform during a game situation. Here is a look at a position-by-position breakdown of some players to watch in the 49ers’ first preseason game:
Let’s get the most obvious player out the way as all eyes will be on Trey Lance with what will be the first action of his NFL career. Lance will look to shake the rust off quickly as he has not seen game action since playing in his one and only collegiate game in 2020. There has been endless buzz about how Lance has performed this offseason often producing better camp stats then incumbent starter Jimmy Garoppolo. If Lance wants to begin the season as the 49ers’ starting quarterback, he will need to start by putting together a good game on Saturday against the Chiefs.
The 49ers invested multiple draft picks this offseason in two huge rookie linemen, Aaron Banks and Jaylon Moore. I expect to see a heavy dose of both players on the field this Saturday. Banks will see reps at the guard position while Moore will likely take most of his reps as a tackle. I could see them playing Moore at both right and left tackle as he is in contention to be the team’s swing tackle.
Trey Sermon, drafted in the third round, is likely to get a heavy workload this season and we will get our first glimpse this Saturday. Elijah Mitchell and Wayne Gallman may end up battling for a roster spot, so I expect both backs to be heavily involved throughout the preseason.
Image Credit: Bay Area News Group
This position is one of the most intriguing to keep an eye on. Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel are locked in at WR1 and WR2, but there is no clarity as to how the remainder of the depth chart will shake out. Some of the more talked about names this offseason have been Mohammed Sanu, Trent Sherfield, Richie James, Jauan Jennings, and Jalen Hurd (who was reported on August 10 to have had some additional knee pain),will all be looking to lock in the WR3 position. The performances this weekend will likely present a front-runner or two and hopefully some clarity that most fans have been looking for at this position.
This position seems all but set, however, I do have some intrigue when it comes to Jordan Matthews and his conversion to his new position. It would be an uphill battle for Matthews to make the team, but I will watch to see how he plays this weekend.
The players that I’m excited to see are Javon Kinlaw and Arden Key. Kinlaw may only get to see a few reps, but he will look to build off a solid rookie season. Key is an intriguing player given the 49ers’ current injuries at the defensive end position. With Ford and Bosa both coming back from season ending injuries in 2019 and Ebukam currently dealing with swelling in his leg, quality depth with pass rushers is critical.I do not expect to see Bosa, Ford, or Ebukam on the field at all this this Saturday.
Marcell Harris, a safety for the 49ers since 2018, has been practicing with the linebackers this year. Defensive coordinator and former linebacker DeMeco Ryans is just the man to help Harris make the conversion to his new position a successful one. Harris ability to play multiple positions could help the team during the season and I will be keeping a close eye on his play this weekend.
The 49ers drafted both Ambry Thomas and Deommodore Lenoir in the 2021 draft, and both players will look to put together some solid performances this weekend and solidify their roster spots at what is a thin position. Lenoir had one of the most talked about reps at the cornerback position as you will see from this video:
With Tarvarius Moore likely out for the season and Jaquiski Tartt now on the PUP list, Talanoa Hufanga, Tony Jefferson, and Tavon Wilson will compete for the strong safety role. Hufanga and Jefferson are the two players I will be watching the most. Jefferson has not played a snap in the NFL since 2019 and Hufanga enters his rookie season with some concerns of his game speed. Having an unknown starter makes the safety position a must-watch this Saturday.
For many players on the team, it will be critical to see some solid performances over the team’s three preseason games. For the players on the roster bubble, this is their route to making the 49ers’ final roster or to being cut.All I know is that I’m happy that we will soon no longer be talking about practice!
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