The San Francisco 49ers welcome the Dallas Cowboys to town on Sunday for the second game of their 2015 preseason schedule. The third game is the big "dress rehearsal" type game, but the second game will provide a quality look at things. I don't think we would expect more than a half of playing time, but we will see more from the starters than in Week 1.
The 49ers first preseason game saw the bulk of the offense only play for one series, and the defense get a little bit more in. Many of the starters are already set, so this was a valuable opportunity to see what some of the backups would be able to do. Roster competition is still on-going, but we got a little context for the various position battles. I thought I'd take a look at the offense, defense and special teams in three separate posts. On Friday we looked at the offensive side of the ball, and on Saturday we looked at the defensive side of the ball. We wrap this up with a look at special teams.
Competitors: Jarryd Hayne, DeAndrew White, Reggie Bush, Bruce Ellington
Week 1 DNP: Bush, Ellington
James Brady took a look at the returners yesterday, but I figured I would add my two cents. We did not see Reggie Bush or Bruce Ellington last week, and it would be a surprise if either did return work this week. Ellington seems like a lock to not be involved, while Bush is a bit of a question mark. I could see Bush getting a little bit of offensive work, but even that will probably be limited.
Special teams coach Thomas McGaughey spoke with the media earlier this week, and in that press conference he talked about not really being able to judge Ellington on anything other than what we saw last season. He is dealing with a muscle strain, and he also missed time last year with some ailments. If he does not get healthy soon, Jarryd Hayne or DeAndrew White seem like they could lock up the returner role. Jim Tomsula has said Reggie Bush is an option, but it also read more like, he's a veteran who can have that opportunity, but if we find a younger player capable enough, we'll go with them. I think we end up seeing that happen.
What to look for in Week 2: Do Hayne and White build on their first week? Does Bush get any punt returns?
Competitors: Bradley Pinion, Phil Dawson
There has been some talk of Pinion getting some work on kickoffs, and Pinion himself said he has done some kickoff work this past offseason. It did not happen in Week 1, and there is no word yet if we will see it in Week 2. If Pinion does not get any Week 2 kickoffs, it would seem likely that he will handle only the punts.
What to look for in Week 2: Does Pinion get any kickoffs? Does Acosta get any kickoffs?
Competitors: A whole lot of people
This is a little more complicated to sort through. There are quite a few players that will need to prove themselves on special teams if they are going to earn a roster spot. The 49ers welcomed Nick Bellore back to the roster this week after a stint on the Active/Illness list. He is a strong candidate for a special teams spot in all aspects of special teams.
Matt Maiocco tweeted out what the 49ers kickoff coverage team looked like. I'll keep an eye on that, as well as the punt coverage unit this week. Maybe we can try and figure out some patterns from the starters. We know Carrier will not be with this kickoff coverage group, so maybe Bellore replaces him. It is interesting that McFadden and Millard were featured on the starting coverage team.
Acker, Dahl, McCray, Lemonier, Millard, McDonald, Carrier, Tartt, McFadden and Brock were on 49ers kickoff coverage.— Matt Maiocco (@MaioccoCSN) August 16, 2015
What to look for in Week 2: Who is on what units? It is not a simple task, but we'll see what we can come up with.