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49ers vs. Saints: Player X Is Our Future!!!

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The 49ers and Saints will meet up Friday evening at the Superdome and we'll finally have some real honest-to-goodness football to watch. Or at least, exhibition/preseason/whatever football. All that matters though is football will be back. And with the return of preseason football comes the chance to wildly overreact to a performance we'll see on Friday.

Although we're all die hards and we try and focus in on the minutia of the team, we're all still fans that can get as excited as anybody else. By the time Friday's game wraps up, almost all of us will have focused in on one or two players we think are officially ready to take a step from unknown backup to eventual super star. Unfortunately that player generally ends up either cut or on the practice squad with people wondering when the front office will realize their mistake.

I say that with some level of confidence because recent seasons have seen such players emerge right out of the gate. Last year the 49ers blew out the Indianapolis Colts 37-17 in their preseason opener and we were introduced to linebacker Bruce Davis. In the opener, Davis recorded six tackles and a sack. He would end up on the practice squad and now is a member of the Oakland Raiders.

In 2009 we had two players create a bit of a stir in the preseason opener against the Broncos. The man who inspired this title, Kory Sheets, had 10 rushes for 51 yards, including a 25-yard run that got the bandwagon rolling. The other player was fullback Brit Miller, who recorded two receptions for 43 yards, both of which were for touchdowns. It shouldn't be surprising how quickly people jumped on that bandwagon. Both guys ended up on the practice squad, both guys are now elsewhere.

And finally in 2008, we had the brief emergence of running back Thomas Clayton. In the opener against the Raiders, Clayton only had five rushes for 27 yards, but many of us were quickly enamored nonetheless. Clayton would hang around into the 2009 preseason but not much longer. He was apparently recently claimed by the Seattle Seahawks off waivers from the Patriots. Maybe he will be their future.

So it is now prediction time. The 2011 season is a hard one to predict for the 49ers, but all I'm asking for is a prediction for Friday. What bottom-of-the-depth-chart player is going to shine on Friday, thus creating an overwhelming buzz amongst the fans?