The San Francisco 49ers host the Dallas Cowboys tomorrow night, and for the first time in 2019, we will get to see live Niners football. I reached out to the Niners Nation staff to see what position group they’re most interested in seeing the most, and why.
The battle for the last wide receiver spot will be something to keep an eye on, especially as players are already going down around the league. Could the 49ers trade Kendrick Bourne or Richie James for, say, a Day 3 pick?
Individually, I’m excited to watch Nick Mullens sling it around. When the team released their unofficial depth chart, the “or” for second-string quarterback had to be a troll. From an expectation standpoint, Mullens is closer to being good than he is average.
At the beginning of the week, it was going to be the defensive line. Nick Bosa? Dee Ford? Well, they’re not playing. So much for that anticipation. Of course, if I can’t see them, I’d love to see the running backs.
Oh, Jerick McKinnon isn’t playing? Well then.
If I can’t see either of those, I’ll piggyback with what Kyle and others have said and say I want to see the wide receivers. Kyle Shanahan said at the beginning of the week the unit lacked consistency and later in the week we’ve been treated to all sorts of fun plays with Trent Taylor and Jimmy Garoppolo being like peanut butter and jelly. I’d like to see Trent Taylor in a preseason game just to quell my fears about his back surgery and lethargism from 2018.
Ditto to Dante Pettis who I’ve read some places as having a decent camp and others saying he’s not stepping it up. Finally, I want to see Deebo Samuel. If I can’t see Nick Bosa, at least let me see the second-round pick.
This was what I thought would be the most competitive unit going into camp, and right now I just want to make some overreactions or terrible conclusions on who will be on the 53-man roster. Right now it sounds like the 49ers don’t have any intention of burning another roster spot to shoulder a seventh wide receiver, but I’d like to see the further developments (and debuts) of what we have.
For me, the answer is easy - it’s free safety. It remains the biggest hole on the 49ers revamped roster, and as of yet nobody has grabbed the reins and taken control of the competition. Jimmie Ward won’t be playing, but for whatever reason, he continues to be a favorite of the coaching staff, and most likely a lock for the 53 man roster. Which leaves Tarvarius Moore, Adrian Colbert, and Antone Exum sharing the snaps vs. the Cowboys.
I’m anxious to see if Moore can continue to build on his limited experience and make a push for the second spot on the depth chart - which could quickly turn into a starting role if Ward continues to struggle with injuries.
Colbert, on the other hand, might be fighting to earn a spot on the 53 man roster. A seventh-round pick entering his third season, Colbert has yet to establish himself as a capable NFL free safety and will need to have a good showing in the preseason if he expects to still be on the team come September.
Exum, by all accounts, is a depth piece, though he may manage to make the roster should Ward not be ready in time for the regular season. Having said that, it’s just as likely that Lynch and Shanahan decide instead to shop the waiver wire post-cuts looking for a younger player with upside or a veteran with more experience.
Joe the Wizard
I was looking forward to watching the defensive line until Arik Armstead, and Nick Bosa went on the injury list but my close second was the linebackers. I wish Kwon Alexander was playing alongside Fred Warner for a few plays, but I am more interested in watching Dre Greenlaw, Elijah Lee and David Mayo. Hopefully, they will be able to provide us with some much-needed depth at the position.
The position group I am most intrigued to see suit up for Saturday’s preseason opener against Dallas are the cornerbacks. Everyone will benefit from the additions made along the defensive line, which will be great.
Richard Sherman, by all accounts, is looking every bit like the Richard Sherman of old (at least more so than last year’s version of Richard Sherman which, mind you, is still not that bad).
The fight for the second cornerback spot is what I want to see, though. Jason Verrett signed a team-friendly deal during the offseason and has looked good early on. Ahkello Witherspoon, though, is looking to return to form as 2018 was a bit of a letdown for him based on what he had shown us during his rookie year. It will be interesting to see how the preseason unfolds for Witherspoon as he tries to regain a grasp on the cornerback spot opposite Sherman.
Sidenote: K’Waun Williams will miss at least the season opener of the regular season, so this gives DJ Reed ample opportunity to make a mark as a nickel-corner during Williams’ absence.
The 49ers may have made splash signings and offseason moves to bolster the defense, but the group that I’m most looking forward to watching in the preseason opener is the wide receiving group.
All the hoopla during training camp has been around the improved, competitive play of the young receivers and their continued development of chemistry with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. While the 49ers’ starting quarterback won’t take part in Saturday’s showdown against the Cowboys, the receiving core will still have a chance to shine.
After an injury-filled sophomore slump, wideout Trent Taylor has been looking quick and sharp during the first part of training camp. Rookies Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd have been impressing the coaches thus far and stand great chances to make the 53-man roster.
Not to mention that wideout Kendrick Bourne has been receiving high praise from head coach Kyle Shanahan for his leap in play over the offseason. Let’s not forget wideouts Dante Pettis and Marquise Goodwin, who’ll contribute heavily to the offense this year.
Throw all these names together, and it’ll be something to pay close attention to when they step on the field against Dallas. Which of these players can separate and stand out on Saturday?
The San Francisco 49ers wide receivers have me most intrigued as we inch closer to the start of the season. I am excited to have a healthy Jimmy Garoppolo back and see what he can do with the various weapons in the passing game. Dante Pettis came in as the potential number one option and showed flashes of brilliance last season. I sense Pettis will continue to grow and mature during his sophomore season and solidify himself as the number one receiving option.
In addition to Pettis, the 49ers have two exciting rookies who should make an immediate impact in 2019. Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd. Samuel has established himself as a clean route runner in college and can be dangerous in the open field. As for Hurd, I am excited to see how they utilize him in the offense. He is a big-bodied receiver who can be a treat in the red zone, and additionally between the hash marks. His prior experience as a running back gives this offense another unique option in the backfield as well.
Marquise Goodwin is going to be that big-play option and should see more looks and opportunities with more weapons now in the fold. Goodwin has been a great addition to this team, and I expect to see continuous positive production from one of the fastest players in the league. Jordan Matthews offers the team an experienced possession receiver who can move the chains. Matthews’ playmaking abilities will also create opportunities for Pettis, Samuel, and company on the field.
Trent Taylor is coming off an injury-riddled season. However, I am excited to see what he can offer this team in the slot. He was one of Kyle Shanahan’s first offensive weapons drafted, and if healthy can play a vital role in the slot.
Kendrick Bourne continues to impress and turns heads each day in training camp. If we have learned anything, its that there is no such thing as too much depth. Bourne could be a valuable addition to this team, and it’s playoff hopes, and should his arrow continue to point upwards, perhaps a bigger role is in store for him.
Lastly, there is Richie James. James can be a valuable member of special teams, and could even push to get touches in the slot. Again, with the 49ers and their recent injury history, there is no such thing as too much depth. Overall, I am really excited about this wide receiving unit and what they can produce with a healthy Jimmy Garoppolo under center!