Tomorrow evening we will watch the San Francisco 49ers play their first preseason game after the most crazy and hectic offseason in my memory - and, to be honest, maybe in franchise history. If you believe Frank Schwab over at Yahoo! Sports, it might be the worst in NFL history. Needless to say, regardless of how you felt this offseason went, evaluating the 49ers this pre-season is more interesting than usual. The team has changed dramatically, and it should be engaging to watch how the team has rebounded from all the chaos.
With this in mind, there are certainly some players that we will all be keeping an eye on Saturday. But, perhaps more importantly, there are position groups that will be showcasing their stuff. Given some of the weaknesses on the 49ers, it might be fair to say that we need position groups to perform well together more than individual standouts (and I don't really mean to put the two at odds with each other, of course - the better individuals play, the better their position groups will look).
So, for the sake of discussion, I thought we might rank what position groups we will be watching most closely and then provide a reason why. I'll start here by ranking them from most interesting to least.
1. Offensive Line
2. Outside Linebackers
3. Defensive Backs
4. Wide Receivers
I anticipate that I, like most people, will probably be watching the OL more than any other position group. The unfortunate theme of training camp has been that the OL hasn't meshed yet - and while coaches and players have tried to alleviate some fears about the line, I'm a bit in a "I'll-believe-it-when-I-see-it" mode with the o-line. There's certainly talent to be found, but the best o-lines play together as a unit. One weak link can hurt the entire blocking scheme. Jim Tomsula had a bit to say about this in his most recent presser, which you can find here.
I might have QBs a little bit lower than some of you (I'm guessing!). I am excited to see Colin Kaepernick's new throwing motion (though we'll see how much work he gets in the first game). But, I'm not super confident about the guys behind him - or, at least, convinced that Blaine Gabbert is really going to do enough to convince me that we have QB depth, regardless of what Tomsula has to say about him.
And, just for fun, a position group I don't have that I think a lot of you will: Running back. Jarryd Hayne, anyone?