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Which 49ers players have the most to prove the final six weeks?

The 49ers will likely have another big round of turnover this coming offseason. That means some players have more to prove than others.

The San Francisco 49ers are through their bye week, and headed into the home stretch of the 2017 season. We’ll find out in the coming days whether or not Jimmy Garoppolo will start against the Seattle Seahawks. We’ll also get a better handle on the statuses of Tank Carradine and Solomon Thomas. Suffice to say, we’ll get a few questions answered in Week 12.

That being said, the team has plenty of questions that will take more time to sort through. The 49ers will have a ton of cap space and high draft picks to use next spring, but the next six weeks will provide a little more context as to what needs to be addressed.

With that in mind, I thought I’d put together a list of some of the 49ers who have the most to prove before the end of the season.

Jimmy Garoppolo

Well, duh. John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan have emphasized how patient they can be with Garoppolo, but plenty of fans want to see what he can do. The team has the franchise tag at their disposal next offseason, but if Garoppolo is going to instead secure a sizable extension before free agency, some kind of performances seem necessary before the end of this season.

Kendrick Bourne

The 49ers rookie receiver has gotten some opportunities the past few weeks, and put together solid work. I don’t anticipate him emerging as a dominant presence, but over the final six weeks, he has a chance to secure his roster spot for 2018. Pierre Garçon, Marquise Goodwin, and Trent Taylor are all but locks for the roster next year, and Bourne has a chance to potentially supplant Aldrick Robinson on the roster with a strong finish.

Eli Harold

He’s quietly out there at the SAM position, having beaten out Ahmad Brooks. However, with cap space and draft picks at their disposal, I’m curious to see if the 49ers look to upgrade at the position. We haven’t really heard much of anything about him thus far. He is signed through next season, but Lynch and Shanahan are clearly quite comfortable unloading previous draft picks when they find a long-term upgrade.

Reuben Foster

From a talent perspective, Foster has nothing to prove. What is critical is if he can stay healthy. Foster finishing out the season healthy does not guarantee anything for the future, but it will certainly make people a little more comfortable heading into next season.

Brandon Fusco

The interior of the 49ers offensive line has had its share of struggles. However, that lies more with Laken Tomlinson and Daniel Kilgore than Brandon Fusco. The 49ers signed Fusco to a one-year deal, and if he can finish out the season strong, a modest extension would not be all that surprising.

Missing names

Every player has something to prove, but for the purposes of the future of the 49ers, I purposely excluded certain players. For example, Aaron Lynch has a lot to prove as he heads into free agency. However, I see almost no chance he is a member of the 49ers next season. Maybe he surprises us these final six games, but I’m fairly certain the 49ers do not attempt to retain him in free agency.

You could look at all the players heading into free agency as having something to prove. Carlos Hyde could show up on this list, but I don’t know that there is much more for him to prove at this point. It doesn’t mean he will get a contract extension, but I think to some degree, we know what the team has. He’s a strong, physical runner, and we’d see more opportunities for bigger numbers with an improved offensive line, and generally improved play across the board.

Solomon Thomas and Ahkello Witherspoon are two rookies I pondered for the “most to prove.” Both have emerged as starters, but have had some inconsistencies. They do have something to prove, but I’m just not seeing it as something where there is the same kind of specific urgency as the players above. Neither can afford to slack off, but I think they’re in a different situation in some ways than the players above.

Which players do you think have the most to prove over the final six weeks of the season?