The San Francisco 49ers have their first preseason game in the books, and with that comes the first snap count of the preseason. Preseason snap counts go considerably longer than the regular season given the use of the 90-man roster. Starters get limited snaps, and the team in turn empties out the roster. 14 players did not play on Saturday, with ten remaining in Santa Clara, and four getting a veteran's day off in Houston.
The 49ers offensive starters primarily got one series of action. Joe Staley and Erik Pears played just the first series. Alex Boone and Joe Looney went a second series. Marcus Martin went a third series moving over to center, with Brandon Thomas taking his place at right guard. Trent Brown and Patrick Miller came on at left and right tackle after Staley and Pears departed, and got the remaining snaps. Brown actually looked solid at times, but also gave up some serious pressure when Dylan Thompson came on. Not great, but I'd say something to build on for Brown.
On defense, Shayne Skov played 80 percent of the defensive snaps, with Eli Harold right behind him at 76 percent of snaps, Nick Moody at 64 percent and Corey Lemonier at 59 percent. The 49ers are thin at linebacker, so it is not surprising linebackers got the most snaps on defense. Arik Armstead got a lot of work, playing 55 percent of defensive snaps.
Where it gets interesting is trying to interpret special teams work. Younger players stuck behind strong veteran depth have to show something on special teams if they want to make the roster. We might be able to get a handle on potential early cuts based on this first snap count. For example, WR Chuck Jacobs, TE Xavier Grimble, WR Issac Blakeney, WR Nigel King and WR Mario Hull played single digit offensive snaps (8, 4, 4, 1, 1), and only King got work on special teams, with one such snap. The 49ers might try and slide one or two of these guys to the practice squad, but limited work does not bode well for them.
Busta Anderson only got one offensive snap, and no special teams snaps. While most of the above group seems like potential cuts, I would not be at all surprised if the 49ers try and hide Anderson in the preseason in order to slip him through waivers to the practice squad.
Here is a full rundown of the 49ers snap count vs. the Houston Texans.