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49ers-Vikings: Players to watch

Last week's kickoff to the 2010 NFL preseason provided us with a glimpse at several players we've been talking about all offseason. We saw Kyle Williams get in a punt return, we saw Anthony Dixon blow up the Colts defense, and Diyral Briggs showed some solid skills at linebacker. And, of course, we were able to check out two of the newest 49ers in Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati.

As we head into the second game of the preseason, I thought it would be worth pulling out a few players to watch. However, I wanted to pull out guys that were not discussed quite as much last week for one reason or another. I'll be keeping an eye on as much as possible, but these are some of the players I'm most intrigued by heading into tomorrow night's game.

Travis LaBoy: LaBoy has missed a ton of practice time as he rehabs the numerous injuries he's dealt with over the recent years. However, it sounds like he's ready to go tomorrow, as Coach Singletary indicated in his press conference yesterday (transcript after the jump), that LaBoy would suit up. Singletary spoke briefly about what he expected from LaBoy this Sunday:

"I think Travis LaBoy just needs to be himself. He's a good football player. That's why we wanted to bring him here and I'm excited to see where he is at in this stage of the process of getting well, getting through the concussion, the foot injury and the whole nine yards. I really want to see what he can bring to our defense."

Phil Barber had a really interesting piece on LaBoy and his attitude at this point. It's easy for a player in LaBoy's situation to get down on himself and resign himself to whatever his lot in life might be. He's battling Diyral Briggs for playing time and with Ahmad Brooks on the shelf, there are a lot of exhibition reps to go around.

NaVorro Bowman: Coach Singletary had plenty to say about Bowman in today's press conference. Bowman will be suiting up on Sunday and making his pro debut. There had been a lot of talk about Bowman's performance in practice prior to get banged up in practice, so I'm a bit excited about seeing if he can live up to the hype in his first game as a pro. He's one I'll be keeping my eye on.

Alex Boone: On the offensive side of the ball I plan on focusing in large part on Alex Boone. A lot of the offseason talk was about Boone's physical transformation and his subsequently improved play. Boone entered in the second half of last Sunday's game, and to be perfectly honest, my attention was already starting to fade. Maiocco put together his weekly recap of all the players and it sounds like Boone certainly showed improvement from last year. While he's shown improvement, he finds himself in a tough battle for a roster spot.

Anthony Dixon/Nate Davis: These two were certainly under the microscope last Sunday, but I include them this week because of the reports that they'll be getting a bump up in the level of competition. Maybe one or both will crash and burn, or maybe they'll succeed beyond our wildest expectations. Whatever the case, I know plenty of us are excited to see how it plays out for both youngsters.

Head Coach Mike Singletary
Post-Practice - August 20, 2010
San Francisco 49ers

On which players will be ruled out of the game:

"I would say (TE Vernon) Davis is ruled out. (WR Michael) Crabtree is probably ruled out. Frank (Gore), maybe, but I'm not sure. We're still going to talk about that a bit, but probably out."

On whether RB Brian Westbrook will be ruled out:

"That will be game time, we'll see. Other than that, that's about it. There may be one or two others that may be out, but we won't know that until the game."

On whether QB Nate Davis will be the second quarterback:

"Right now that's a possibility. We just have to see how we want to do it. Davis could still be the second and not play as long. We just have to figure it out."

On whether it's been determined how long the starters will play:

"No, no it's not. We're not sure."

On whether he is looking forward to seeing LB NaVorro Bowman play:

"Yes I am, I'm looking forward to him getting some reps and really responding to his technique and getting him in a real game. Really getting a chance to see how instinctive he is. So yes, I'm looking very much forward to that."

On whether Bowman can handle the contact at the NFL level:

"There's no doubt about it. He is a physical guy, much more physical than I thought he was. I didn't know if he would be able to play inside. He was a thick looking guy when I saw him at the combine, but I wasn't sure. The film had me going back and forth because he was never really inside, he was never really outside. He was more outside than he was inside. When he got here, we realized he was thick enough, he was quick enough - really a unique guy because he has a lot of flexibility which is sort of ironic because I heard prior to getting him that he was kind of a stiff guy, but he moves really well. So, its just a matter of, I want to see how he responds to the detail of his position and I think if he does that then he's going to have a good night."

On whether he thinks Bowman's abilities are similar to LB Patrick Willis:

"Yes, I do. I would say this; I don't want to jump to fast because Pat was really unique, but he's a guy that certainly has some potential along the special side so, if there is a willingness to develop, I mean Pat really worked his tail off to get there. This kid shows that he has a work ethic as well, so it will be interesting."

On Bowman's ability to blitz:

"He's definitely a guy that can do it well. He moves very well on the inside and when you look at him, he brings some things that normally an outside linebacker would bring more of. He really has the flexibility inside to maneuver and dip and do some things that really make it difficult for a back to get a good shot on him."

On the situation with the punt return position:

"I think I really know what (WR Ted) Ginn can do. Ginn is the same guy week in and week out. He's going to catch the ball, and he's going to hit, I know that. The other two guys, I'm not as sure. (WR Dominique) Zeigler, I do know. I know the consistency that he has catching the ball. He hasn't been able to do a lot with it; we haven't asked him to. But the other kid, I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do with it. Hopefully he can catch the first one and it's a good night for him, so we'll see."

On whether LB Travis LaBoy will suit up for the game:

"He's on. He's going."

On what LaBoy needs to show:

"I think Travis LaBoy just needs to be himself. He's a good football player. That's why we wanted to bring him here and I'm excited to see where he is at in this stage of the process of getting well, getting through the concussion, the foot injury and the whole nine yards. I really want to see what he can bring to our defense."