Well, we have almost made it. The San Francisco 49ers host the San Diego Chargers Thursday evening in their final game of the preseason. We still have final roster cuts and a whole week other week until real football, but this is yet another significant benchmark. Real football is almost here!
The final preseason game is likely to involve a lot of starters sitting on the bench. We'll see some starters just because of some of the youth, and the sheer volume of players needed. But even those starters probably will not play a whole lot. Jim Tomsula spoke about that earlier in the week, and he said if starters do play, it will not be a lot.
With that in mind, it is time to figure out what we will try and watch during Thursday's game. There are plenty of reserves worth watching, particularly on defense. Mike Purcell and Arik Armstead are two guys I am looking forward to seeing. With Tramaine Brock sidelined with his hamstring injury, I imagine we will get to see a lot of Keith Reaser, Kenneth Acker and Dontae Johnson. If one or more of that group does not play, it might give away some things about the starting lineup.
On the offensive side of the ball, I am curious to see if this new-look offensive line gets some run with the full group. Normally you might sit guys like Joe Staley and Alex Boone, but will the insertion of Jordan Devey at right guard mean we see the whole group get some work? Jim Tomsula did say that it comes down to balancing whether or not the coaching staff saw enough in practice on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith likely play little if any. The 49ers placed Dres Anderson on IR, and waived Mario Hull and Chuck Jacobs. I imagine we see a whole lot of everybody else in that group, all the way up to and including Quinton Patton and Bruce Ellington.
And of course, there's Jarryd Hayne. He only got one punt return last week, with Reggie Bush, DeAndrew White and Bruce Ellington splitting punt and kick return duties for the most part. Will we see Hayne get some additional work as a returner to go along with his running back work? That will be something a lot of 49ers fans will keep an eye on.
Who will you be watching?