The San Francisco 49ers wrapped up their 2019 preseason on Thursday with a 27-24 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers at Levi’s Stadium. It was the final opportunity for players on the roster bubble to prove their worth as general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan begin trimming the roster to the 53-man limit. For those on the outs, Week 4 was also a chance to show other NFL teams that they’re worth claiming off waivers.
Here are our five takeaways from the 49ers’ preseason loss to the Chargers:
Wilson Jr. belongs in the conversation
Jeff Wilson Jr. was the first 49ers running back this preseason to hit the century mark, racking up 100 yards on 20 carries. His impressive totals included a 41-yard touchdown spearheaded by lead blocker and quarterback, C.J. Beathard. Unfortunately, Wilson may still be on the outside looking in regards to the regular-season roster, but his performance on Thursday should give the 49ers coaching staff pause about subjecting Wilson to waivers. With Jerick McKinnon suffering another setback, there may yet be room for the former undrafted free agent.
Did Bourne do enough?
Shanahan’s biggest complaint against the 49ers’ young group of receivers has been consistency. Kendrick Bourne, who’s firmly on the roster bubble, authored another up-and-down performance against the Chargers. The former undrafted free agent dropped a wide-open pass from Beathard on one play, but then caught an impressive diving/slide touchdown shortly after. The 49ers will also be considering veteran Jordan Matthews and special teams standout Richie James at the bottom of the receiver depth chart. It’s unclear if Bourne has done enough to eclipse either.
Greenlaw hot and cold
The 49ers parting ways with veteran Malcolm Smith was a strong endorsement of the team’s young group of linebackers. Rookie Dre Greenlaw has contributed to the positive outlook with a solid training camp and preseason, but the young linebacker still showed plenty of rookie moments on Thursday. He was quick to bite on multiple play-action snaps from the Chargers, Greenlaw leaving a wide-open tight end in scoring position on one play. Thankfully for Greenlaw, the pass was dropped. The 49ers’ fifth-round pick is the frontrunner for the “SAM” linebacker spot alongside Fred Warner and Kwon Alexander on base downs. Although promising so far, there’s still plenty of work ahead for Greenlaw.
Hurd questionable for Week 1
Shanahan on Thursday seemed doubtful that the 6-foot-5, 225-pound receiver would make his debut against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 1. Jalen Hurd made his mark on the preseason during the team’s Week 1 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys at Levi’s Stadium. The third-round pick scored a pair of impressive touchdowns that left 49ers fans wanting more. Unfortunately, back tightness has left Hurd’s status for the regular season in question. While the injury isn’t serious enough to merit injured reserve, Hurd still joins Trent Taylor as wideouts not expected to be ready come September.
Who’s the backup?
Beathard was the first quarterback out of the gate on Thursday, playing the entire first half. He completed six of nine passes for 58 yards and a touchdown. It was a respectable performance for Beathard, who is still competing with Nick Mullens for the backup role behind Jimmy Garoppolo. Mullens only played one series and completed one pass against the Chargers. Shanahan was unwilling to identify the front-runner for the role, citing Monday as his deadline to make a decision. The 49ers coach also said he expects to keep both Beathard and Mullens on the final 53-man roster. With cuts and trades in full swing throughout the NFL, we’ll see if both backups remain after Saturday’s 1 p.m. deadline.