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Jeremy McNichols could be a player to watch vs. Texans

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He made a big leap up the depth chart on Wednesday as the 49ers figure things out during Jerick McKinnon and Matt Breida’s absences.

The San Francisco 49ers signed Alfred Morris on Tuesday to help shore up a running back depth chart dealing with injuries to both Jerick McKinnon and Matt Breida. Morris was getting reps on Wednesday at the team’s joint practice with the Houston Texans, but Jeremy McNichols might be the guy to watch on Saturday. Matt Barrows offered this observation from practice.

Jennifer Chan confirmed to me that Joe Williams also got some first team work, while Raheem Mostert and Alfred Morris got some time with the 2s and 3s. In last week’s game, McNichols was the last running back to get work. Mostert was third on the depth chart, followed by Williams. McNichols came on for the team’s final two drives and had three rushes for 15 yards and a touchdown.

McNichols, a 2017 fifth round pick, impressed for stretches of the preseason with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before getting cut at the end of training camp. It was expected he would sign with the Bucs practice squad if he cleared waivers. However, after clearing waivers, he signed with the 49ers practice squad — much to the chagrin of the Bucs.

McNichols spent the first 11 weeks and bye on the team’s practice squad, and was on the 53-man roster for the final five weeks (active for two games, entirely on special teams). Mostert and Williams have been viewed as the front-runners in the competition for the third running back spot, but if McNichols gets some time with the ones on Saturday, that will make that third preseason game all the more important.