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Kyle Shanahan: QB is only position where we know 1st, 2nd string

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The 49ers have some tough decisions ahead of them.

The San Francisco 49ers are two weeks and a day away from final roster cuts. They play this Saturday, next Saturday, and the following Thursday to close out the preseason. They then have until Saturday, September 1st to cut down to 53 players.

The team has plenty of questions to answer, and head coach Kyle Shanahan expects a lot of tough decisions. On Thursday, he made an appearance on KNBR’s Tolbert & Lund show to talk about training camp to date and roster decisions to come.

Shanahan would not give away much, but he did offer some confirmation on what we likely already knew about the quarterback position.

“I mean I think quarterback’s the only situation that we pretty much know our first and second string. I know we’ve got guys competing to be third string, but usually we’re gonna go with a practice squad situation, so you don’t keep three on the roster.”

From there he went into a little more of the coach-speak we expect when it comes to not giving away roster decisions. That being said, he did offer some modest details.

“We have some really tough decisions, and it’s just not the people realize. It’s not the starter and the backup, it’s who to put on the 53-man roster. we’ve got some positions where we’ve got more NFL players we’d like to keep than usually the number of guys that you’re supposed to keep at that position. So, whenever that happens, you’d like to keep extra somewhere because you don’t ever wanna cut good players. But the problem is you can’t keep extra at every position.

“So, we’ve got a number of battles going on. I think some players don’t even realize. Could be your third or fourth running back vs. fifth or sixth receiver. It could be one of those guys vs. an extra d-lineman, an extra safety. You never know it’s gonna play out, who’s gonna be active on game day, who’s gonna be our total 53, who can be healthy and play Week 1, who you’ve gotta wait till they recover.”

None of this is all that surprising. The team has quite a few starters just about settled, but the depth chart is far from settled further down. The 49ers are still rebuilding their roster, and while they will be contenders, there are a host of questions up and down the roster. I listed out 34 locks on the roster, and even that draws plenty of disagreement. Some might see nearly half the roster as a toss-up to a certain degree.

I’ve time-stamped the interview, and you can listen to the audio at the bottom of the page. Click here if you don’t see the embedded audio.

0:58 — what it’s like in Houston (heat, his history there)
1:36 — what training camp is like now that players can stay in shape year round
2:36 — how camp went (technically camp ends heading into the second preseason game)
3:13 — any positions considered open at this point
4:36 — importance of versatility in making end of roster
5:27 — breakdown of running back position given the injuries
6:45 — what’s up with Georgia Southern guys (McKinnon, Breida) getting hurt
7:01 — Marquise Goodwin taking the next step
8:14 — value of joint practices
9:08 — Richard Sherman’s leadership
10:19 — value of facing new players in joint practices
11:28 — when Shanahan realized he had a decent grasp on being a head coach