The fourth preseason game typically sees very little play from starters, but Kyle Shanahan said on Monday that the team will play some of them in Thursday’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers. Shanahan said that “most” starters will sit, but that “it’s hard to sit all of them.”
It will be interesting to see what that means. The 49ers have some inexperienced players starting at cornerback, linebacker and along the defensive line, and that could be where some starters play. I imagine the new defensive alignment and the very young players set to start will lead to a handful on that side of the ball.
Offensively, I don’t really see why the 49ers would play any starters outside of perhaps an offensive lineman or two. There’s no reason to play Brian Hoyer, Carlos Hyde, Pierre Garcon or anybody along those lines, but a couple of the big boys up front wouldn’t surprise me.
I do expect to see some Tim Hightower, whose spot on the depth chart is a mystery to me. I’d like to see him get the bulk of the carries on Thursday.
In addition to the news about the starters, Shanahan said that he is evaluating who will not play overall, and that the team would be releasing any roster bubble players who aren’t expected to play prior to Thursday’s game.
It’s unlikely any of these players would have enough time to get on a roster in time to play in the fourth exhibition game, but at the very least the 49ers are trying to not string them along if they already know that they won’t be making it or playing on Thursday.