The 49ers finished out the preseason with a close loss to the Chargers but the game didn’t start out looking so close. At the end of the first quarter the 49ers had one first down and -6 yards of offense. Finally the team got things going with a few players stepping up in their final chance to prove they deserve a spot on the roster or practice squad.
Here are your winners and losers from the preseason finale:
Very few starters on either side of the ball played in the final match up, but Thomas was one of them. He only played one series but when he did, he made an impact. Since Thomas sat out for part of the preseason due to a concussion, it was good for the sophomore to get some good reps under his belt to boost his confidence. His coaches and teammates have remarked that his confidence level in has been the biggest improvement in his game this offseason. While he was never in doubt to make the roster, this was a good game for him.
Richie James Jr.
The rookie wide out had flashed earlier in the preseason but made it very clear that he should be on the 53 man roster after the weekend’s cuts. He caught seven of his eight targets for 80 yards with his longest reception being for 27 yards. He also was busy on special teams with one kick off return for 22 yards and 3 punt returns for 32 yards. While James says he feels like he did enough to make a roster somewhere, it’s out of his control and he can’t worry about it.
For a quarterback who didn’t take any 11 on 11 reps throughout training camp or the preseason, the rookie did surprisingly well. He completed eight of his nine pass attempts for 58 yards and ended the day with a 93.5 rating. After the game Kyle Shanahan said he gave the rookie a chance because he deserved it.
The challenging start for the offense was primarily due to the offensive line not protecting the quarterback. Williams allowed two sacks alone in the first quarter which does not bode well for his making the roster.
Robinson has a history with Kyle Shanahan but that might not be enough to keep him on the 53 this season. Rookies Richie James and Dante Pettis have likely edged him out of a spot. While the two passes thrown his way weren’t the best throws, he walked away from the finale without a reception.
The second year linebacker has a lot of potential but is just not quite there yet. Taumoepenu got extended time on the field and registered three tackles. He could be a candidate for the practice squad, but Shanahan said even those choices are going to be difficult and there are more players than 10 that they'd like to keep.
While he is a standout on special teams, Burbridge did not have a single target in the finale. He had a great training camp and will likely end up on a roster somewhere, but he will be a casualty of the depth that the team has a wide receiver.