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What to watch for in 49ers preseason finale vs. Chargers

John Dickinson
August 31, 2017 - 3:12 pm

49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said most starters would sit out in tonight’s preseason finale at Levi’s Stadium. Shanahan also stated that many players who had locked up spots on the 53-man roster wouldn’t play as well and others who didn’t have a chance to make the team could be released. So, who does that leave? It leaves younger starters and veteran players competing for roster spots to see the bulk of the action. Here are a few specific battles or players to watch tonight at Levi’s Stadium.

Backup QB battle. Who wins it? Do 49ers keep three?

Rookie C.J. Beathard is the favorite to land the backup QB job over veteran Matt Barkley. The bigger question is whether Beathard can earn enough trust from the coaching staff to be the only QB behind Brian Hoyer on the 53-man roster? The 49ers could use that roster spot to keep an extra wide receiver or lineman on either side of the ball. Hoyer has been injury prone throughout his career so there may be value in having a veteran third man in Barkley ready to roll behind Beathard although you could make a strong case that Barkley would go unsigned if cut and still be available in an emergency.

Final running back Spot?

Carlos Hyde is the starter and rookies Matt Breida and Joe Williams have impressed enough to earn spots. The question comes down to veteran Tim Hightower vs. young journeyman Raheem Mostert. Hightower began camp as a favorite to make the roster by showing a familiarity with Shanahan’s system and seeing a lot of time with the first team in spelling Carlos Hyde. Mostert came on in preseason game three at Minnesota catching two passes for 104-yards including and 87-yard run off a short pass. He also rushed for a TD and has been listed as the 49ers top kickoff return man.

Other battles and bubbles?

Jeremy Kerley originally appeared to be a lock for the 49ers roster even if they only kept five wide receivers. Rookie draft pick Trent Taylor looks ready to contribute from day one and Victor Bolden and Kendrick Bourne have both had strong camps. Will the 49ers consider Taylor and Kerley redundant and look to keep a receiver with a different skill set as their fifth and or sixth at the position.

Quinton Dial has slipped down the depth chart throughout August on a very deep 49ers defensive line. He is one of the veterans that will see time tonight that may need to flash to keep his spot beyond Saturday afternoon’s cuts.

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