We are halfway through the NFL Preseason, guys! As we are an inch closer to actual meaningful football, we’ve been identifying players who need to improve if they want to survive being cut by the time the regular season begins. With that being said here are some names who need to show signs of progress if they have any desire to stick around when the roster has dwindled to the final 53:
The meteoric rise of cornerback-turned-safety Tarvarius Moore should have you excited...unless you’re Adrian Colbert. Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh went from saying Moore is nowhere near being ready to be in a spot to challenge for the starting free safety position. If things continue to progress the way they have then Colbert could be riding the bench come Week 1 versus Tampa Bay, which is rough given the fact that he has been dealing with some nagging injuries. If he continues his regression, though, he could find himself either on the bench or - if things get way worse - off the team entirely.
You may be asking yourself, “Hey, didn’t Bourne score on a fade route from Nick Mullens? He shouldn’t be on this list, right?” Wrong! While he had a decent night against Denver, he did also drop a pass that would’ve helped him pull away from the rest of the receivers also jockeying for the final spot. Richie James, Jr had a very good night returning a few kickoffs, and that additional element to his game helps make his case against both Bourne and Jordan Matthews.
Suffice to say Kendrick Bourne has an uphill battle during these final two preseason games so it will be interesting to see if he can maintain some consistency and make the final 53 man roster.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan recently stated that Beathard has the big-play ability that teams look for and adds to the appeal of having Beathard as a backup quarterback. The knock on Beathard, though, is the length of time it takes for him to process plays as they happen in real-time. He’s put up similar numbers to Nick Mullens over the first two games of the preseason, but it looks and feels like Mullens has a legitimately firm grasp on the offense.
Beathard was selected in the 3rd round in 2017, so he has the mark as “Shanahan’s guy” but his time in a 49er uniform could be coming to an end if he can’t find a way to separate himself from Mullens during the final two preseason games.
George Kittle essentially is a god amongst mortal men, so his position is secure. Behind him, though, things begin to get interesting. Garrett Celek, with his recent back surgery, is out of the picture. Kaden Smith, selected in the 6th round of the 2019 NFL Draft (Stanford), has shown flashes of being a solid rotational piece on offense for years to come. Another name people are high on is Ross Dwelley - the tight end went undrafted in 2018 and spent time on the practice squad before being signed to the 53 man roster later that October. He has been turning heads this offseason, and many believe he has a good shot at being the primary backup for Kittle in 2019.
Toilolo is more-so just a victim of other players stepping up and making flashes so he will need to do something if he wants to stand out in what’s turned into a crowded group of tight ends.