The San Francisco 49ers and San Diego Chargers wrap up the preseason Thursday in front of what could be a feisty crowd. The most interesting aspects of this game will be Colin Kaepernick’s performance, and which players don’t get playing time. Normally a lot of starters rest in the final preseason game, so if certain names are not in the starting lineup, it might tell us something.
While we’re trying to figure that out, the San Diego Chargers are wrapping up a few of things of their own. We won’t see most of their starters, and it sounds like Joey Bosa probably will not play. Bosa signed his rookie deal earlier this week, but he likely will not see game action until Week 1. I had a chance to chat with Richard Wade at Bolts from the Blue to discuss that and a few other topics heading into the game. You can read my answers to his questions here.
Niners Nation: As a fantasy football connoisseur, I'm rather high on Philip Rivers this season. How has he looked, and what do you expect from the offense in 2016?
Bolts from the Blue: Philip Rivers has looked very much like the Philip Rivers we have all come to know and love in San Diego. He is very comfortable in Ken Whisenhunt's offense and he is already building solid rapport with new additions to the offense like Travis Benjamin, Tyrell Williams, and Hunter Henry. I will be very surprised if he does not have a very efficient season. From a fantasy football perspective, my only concern would be the possibility of the Chargers running an offense with below average pace and leaning more on the run than game script might call for in order to protect the defense from being on the field too much. That said, I'm still hoping I can snag him in the later rounds of my draft this weekend.
NN: The Bosa has finally landed! Will he play on Thursday, and what do you expect from him in the early weeks given how much time he missed?
BFTB: There is almost no chance that Bosa will play on Thursday. We will have to wait until week 1 of the regular season in Kansas City to see him in live game action. I suspect the coaching staff will try to ease him into things by having him split more snaps with Darius Philon than he would have otherwise. But by week 2, his talent should force the coaching staff to give him the majority of the snaps at defensive end.
NN: What have been the injury storylines through camp and the preseason?
BFTB: Season-ending injuries to WR3 Stevie Johnson, RB3 Branden Oliver, TE3 Jeff Cumberland, and OG3 Donavon Clark have been the biggest stories. Johnson's time has gone to second-year WR Tyrell Williams. Oliver's job is up for grabs with the favorites being rookie RB Kenneth Farrow and recent waiver claim RB Gus Johnson. Cumberland's spot appears to be Sean McGrath's to lose. The loss of Clark may actually hurt the most as the depth at guard was already thin and both D.J. Fluker and Orlando Franklin have struggled to stay healthy. Right now, undrafted free agent G Spencer Pulley could be starting at right guard. But hey, at least Joey Bosa isn't hurt since he missed all of camp and preseason.
NN: Who are the names to watch in the second half of this game when players are fighting for roster spots?
BFTB: Farrow and Johnson are battling for that RB3 spot (assuming neither gets beat out by a new signing after cuts) and that could be worth keeping an eye on. One of the more interesting stories going into camp was fullback Chris Swain from Navy. At this point, he's probably fighting for an opportunity to make the practice squad, but personally, I'm a fan of his and would have liked to see him get a chance to beat out Derek Watt (unfortunately, he did not get that opportunity). The back end of the safety group is in some doubt with veteran Darrell Stuckey competing with younger players Adrian McDonald, Adrian Phillips, and Dexter McCoil from the CFL. McCoil is fascinating to watch as he's a safety built like a wide receiver, so look for him.
NN: What starting competitions are still undecided heading into this game?
BFTB: Right now, I don't believe any of the starting spots are actually undecided unless the coaching staff is actually entertaining the idea of one of the safeties mentioned above beating out Dwight Lowery or Jahleel Addae (both of whom are incredibly mediocre players).