The 2018 preseason is officially a wrap! The San Francisco 49ers closed it out with a 23-21 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers in the annual preseason “battle of California.” The 49ers finished the preseason 1-3, and now get ready for the Minnesota Vikings. Roster cuts will take place over the next 48 hours, and in the meantime, there was plenty to learn from the preseason finale.
1. Solomon Thomas did what we should expect of him against backups.
The 49ers second-year defensive tackle absolutely dominated in his brief stint in the game. He had two tackles for a loss and a quarterback on the opening series. He left the game after that series, but has to feel good about a strong finish. He was facing almost entirely Chargers reserves, so he did exactly what he was supposed to do — dominate. Considering his development process, I’m happy with that!
2. The 49ers reserve offensive tackle options are ... not good
Garry Gilliam left the preseason opener with a concussion, and has not played since. He is the likely swing tackle, but if he does not get through the concussion protocol, the 49ers don’t have many great options in reserve. Darrell Williams seemed to enter camp with a shot to compete for the swing tackle role, but he struggled in a big way in the preseason finale and is a likely cut candidate at this point.
3. Richie James has to make the roster
Nothing’s certain, but Richie James capped off a strong preseason with another solid performance. James led the team with seven receptions for 80 yards, along with a 23-yard punt return. Kyle Shanahan has put him into a variety of positions on the field, and he’s made things happen. He’s got to make the roster and I see him being a creative option week in and week out.
4. Nick Mullens might get claimed off waivers
The 49ers have made it clear C.J. Beathard is their backup quarterback, but Mullens had a solid preseason. Other teams might see his work as being against inferior opposition, but there are some awful backups around the league. Maybe he lands as a second or third quarterback on someone’s roster. I wouldn’t mind the 49ers having him back on the practice squad, but I would love to see him get a roster shot somewhere.
5. Jack Heneghan isn’t awful
The 49ers fourth string quarterback got a chance to play the end of the third quarter and all of the fourth quarter, and he impressed. He finished the game 8/9 for 58 yards, and it was against the bottom of the depth chart, it was a solid effort. Heneghan was signed as a UDFA to be a camp body, and he saw virtually no work in team drills. All things considered, it was an impressive performance.
6. One reserve safety job still appears to be up for grabs
D.J. Reed appears to be settled in as one of the 49ers’ reserve defensive backs. For the second straight week, Tyvis Powell played safety after coming into camp primarily as a cornerback. The 49ers released Chanceller James earlier this week, and don’t have a whole lot of depth otherwise. They could go for a veteran, but we’ll find out in a couple days if Powell has claimed a spot.
7. The preseason is over
The most important takeaway from this game! It’s time for regular season football, y’all!