The 49ers and Texans get going later this afternoon with a 5pm PT kickoff. There is no specific word on how long the starters will play, but given general preseason patterns, one has to imagine it will be into the second quarter. Of course, we're talking about Jim Harbaugh, so preseason patterns could mean squat to him.
Nonetheless, we'll have plenty of time to continue getting acquainted with the non-starters, as we sort through potential Player X Is Our Future candidates. After today we'll be halfway through the preseason schedule, so time is running short to get overly enamored with a particular player.
The 49ers roster is quite deep, with most of the starting positions locked up. However, there are numerous battles below the surface that mean we will see some meaningful playing time throughout the game, even deep into the fourth quarter. I thought I'd roll out a few non-starters that I think are worth watching over the course of the day. I'm cheating a bit and using two guys when a comparison is necessary. So, consider five non-starters to be players and position groups.
1. Eric Bakhtiari and Kourtnei Brown
I'm cheating a little bit these guys as one of them (likely Bakhtiari) will be starting tonight. However, neither is a starter in the bigger picture sense. Rather, these two are battling along with Cam Johnson for the fourth outside linebacker role. If Johnson sits out tonight, Bakhtiari and Brown will likely find themselves getting a ton of playing time against the Texans first string offense. Bakhtiari had a strong performance last week, but two sacks in the fourth quarter of the first preseason game can be a bit difficult to judge. It was a strong performance, but one has to consider the circumstances.
2. Demarcus Dobbs and Konrad Reuland
Delanie Walker is likely to sit out, so one or both of these guys will see some first team playing time when the 49ers go with their base two tight-end set. Additionally, both will see plenty of extended playing time as the lone tight end as the game progresses. The 49ers added Joe Sawyer, and also have Garrett Celek competing for an opportunity, but it really does seem to be down to Dobbs and Reuland.
3. Tramaine Brock
Over the last few weeks, praise has rained down upon Perrish Cox as he has been reported as one of the big performers in camp. We haven't heard nearly as much about Brock, which could be a good or a bad thing. It sounds like Cox will be sitting out tonight's game, so Brock will get more time tonight. He has a chance to make a strong impression, so we'll see if he steps up.
4. Trenton Robinson
There are several rookies worth watching in this game, but I'm most curious to see how Robinson performs in his second preseason game. He had a fairly quiet game in his preseason debut last week. Robinson has gotten some praise from the coaches, but of course needs to continue developing each week. He will see plenty of playing time as he remains one of the primary backup safeties.
5. Josh Johnson
The 49ers flipped their QB order this week with Johnson slated to enter third and Scott Tolzien slated to enter fourth. plenty will be looking to see if Tolzien can follow up last week with a strong performance this week, but I'm more interested in seeing what JJ does in his time on the field. He can't win the third QB job in his appearance tonight, but he could go a long way towards losing the job with a poor performance.