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49ers vs. Vikings: Who’s on your watch list?

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Preseason week three brings the 49ers to Minnesota - who will you be keeping your eyes on?

The 49ers are in Minneapolis for their third preseason game. Head coach Kyle Shanahan stated that the starters should get at least the first half of the game to (hopefully) get rhythm going. If he sees all he needs, C.J. Beathard will be taking over in the second half. Here’s a few players I will be watching, and why.

Eli Harold

The third year linebacker from Virginia has been named a starter. Harold had moved in front of the recently departed Ahmad Brooks on the depth chart in training camp. He is lighter and faster than he was previously, from the Trent Baalke concept of having him put on weight to fit into the former scheme. He is now focusing on setting the edge and his confidence seems to be on the rise.

C.J. Beathard

The rookie quarterback will likely be opening up the second half of the game as the signal caller. Beathard’s chemistry with his offensive counterparts as been building and like Shanahan said in his press conference, we’ve seen a bit of Matt Barkley in the NFL. Let’s see if we get a few KSIOF moments from the Iowa quarterback.

Victor Bolden Jr. and Kendrick Bourne

The battle for the 6th wide receiver spot is likely between these two. Bolden has special teams in his repertoire to make a spot on the 53 more likely but Bourne lit up the field in the preseason opener. Will we see another long kickoff return from Bolden? Will Bourne be dynamic enough to make a case? If not, will the 49ers be able to stash him on the practice squad?

The running backs

Carlos Hyde hasn’t broken good run yet in the preseason. While you know what he’s capable of, it would be good to see him get past the tackles to the second level before letting the others backs get a crack at it. While we saw a bit of Tim Hightower and Kapri Bibbs in Kansas City, Raheem Mostert only played with special teams. Matt Breida sat out and Joe Williams only saw the field for a few snaps.

The offensive line

Rookie Erik Magnuson got some time with the ones this week but Shanahan said not to read too much into it. While his karaoke skills are very entertaining, Magnuson has some work to do, as does the line as a unit. The pass protection has been decent, but better run blocking is a must. The 49ers were stifled by the Chiefs, only getting 37 yards on the ground. The line will be without guard Joshua Garnett for at least a few more weeks and needs to keep cultivating their chemistry.

K’Waun Williams and Dontae Johnson

Shanahan announced that Jimmie Ward would not be playing in this game, otherwise he would be on the top of my must watch list. Instead, Williams and Johnson are on my list. Yes, I know that they are cornerbacks and Ward has been moved to free safety but the secondary as a whole is still developing. Both Williams and Johnson have flashed during training camp and are competing to play opposite Rashard Robinson.