As the pre-season games have continued the last couple of weeks, I think it is safe to say that a few position battles have fallen by the wayside. Most prominently in my mind is the Right Guard position. By most accounts, Alex Boone has rightfully locked up the spot for the season.
Most of the defensive positions, in fact, have settled out - which shouldn't be a major surprise given how good of a defense we had last year and the relative depth at each position. That said, a few positions still need addressed, primarily back-up CB. And, perhaps most compellingly, a few defensive players are still trying to find their niche on the roster as they compete with the whole team, not just those at their respective positions. LB Eric Bakhtiari is a guy in this category.
For this post, though, I want to present what I think are the most interesting battles, all of which are on the offensive side of the ball.
This battle is interesting on a few different levels. While I do think the spots are pretty set in terms of who actually makes the team, there is still some fluidity therein. For example, I'm not entirely convinced that there isn't a bit of a competition between Randy Moss, Michael Crabtree, and Mario Manningham, for example. Also, I wonder who will see more time: Kyle Williams or Ted Ginn Jr. At this point, I bet Williams will, but Mr. Ginn will probably see a lot of time on speed-specific plays.
The real competition, though, is between the bubble players. I see three WRs who might be able to make a play for a roster spot: Chris Owusu, Brian Tyms, and Nathan Palmer. More than likely, if one of these three players makes the team, he does so at the expense of the other two. Palmer had a strong start to the season, only to see Owusu and Tyms catch up and pull ahead.
For better or worse, Colin Kaepernick has effectively secured the 2nd QB job. This means that Josh Johnson and Scott Tolzien will duke it out for the 3rd - and likely last - QB spot on the team.
Honestly, this is a coin toss for me. Or, rather, I prefer Tolzien over Johnson, but in terms of predicting who will get the spot, I can see check-mate arguments on both sides. JJ obviously has the athleticism and Harbaugh-connections. Tolzien, on the other hand, has good pocket presence. Both players are excellent for what they would be: emergency QBs. On Sunday specifically, look to see how the coaches call plays for both men: a predominance of passing plays to may be a clue (or a Harbaugh trick).
Even though they weren't that bad (and thank God), last week's injuries were a game changer for this battles. If they help anybody, then they help Anthony Dixon, though I doubt they help enough at all. In fact, I bet that the coaches will play it safe with the RBs this week due to the injury bug. As such, I am interested to see how much Frank Gore plays. It was awesome to see him in action last week, and a few plays from him Sunday would pump me up, though if people smarter than me think it prudent to leave him on the sidelines, I sure wouldn't fight it, because I have enjoyed watching the maturation of Kendall Hunter.
In all likelihood, though, I bet the team sort of "shops" Anthony Dixon to other teams. I doubt they are trying to get others interested for the team's sake, but it may do wonders for Dixon's career, especially if he is cut.