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49ers rest some starters to get reserves playing time

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The San Francisco 49ers third preseason game was kind of an odd one given how the preseason schedule tends to go. Normally, the third preseason game sees starters getting a lot of snaps in what some view as the “dress rehearsal” for the regular season. The 49ers have gotten their defensive starters a decent amount of playing time thus far, and we saw some of them get some time off on Saturday.

Linebackers NaVorro Bowman and Ahmad Brooks, and safety Antoine Bethea all sat out the third preseason game. Chip Kelly spoke to the media after the game and said he made that decision because the team wanted to see what the younger players and reserves could do.

“We just wanted to see, number one, wanted to see the safeties play behind Bethea in that situation. Wanted to take a long look at [DT] Tank [Carradine] and the other outside linebackers, because obviously [LB] Aaron [Lynch] is not going to play in the first four games, so really who is going to play opposite of Brooksey and we kind of know what we have in Ahmad. And, the same thing with Bo, where are we if Bo were to go down and how comfortable are those other linebackers playing the MIKE spot. It was just a chance to get more reps for the other linebackers, the other safeties and the other outside linebackers because we know that Bo, Ahmad and Antoine are going to be there for us when we play the Rams.”

Tank Carradine, Jaquiski Tartt, and the middle linebacker trio all got more snaps due to the absences of the former three, and all three could be significant contributors in 2016. Aaron Lynch’s four-game suspensions opens the door for Tank and Eli Harold. Tartt is going to get significant opportunities as a hybrid safety/linebacker option, and after last year, it’s important to have him ready in case Antoine Bethea or Eric Reid suffers an injury creating any sort of lengthy absence. And so, getting them out there makes sense in the bigger picture.