The San Francisco 49ers play the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday in their preseason opener at Levi’s Stadium. The players have endured two weeks of training camp to get to this point - 11 practices in total since reporting on July 26. The 90-man roster has seen plenty of fluctuation as players seek to improve their standing and earn a spot among the final 53 - not everyone succeeded.
We’re taking a look at the players whose stock shifted most over the first two weeks of training camp:
WR Trent Taylor
Taylor's back surgery before the 2018 season clearly restricted his ability on the field last year. But as his teammates would tell you, Taylor’s back (no pun intended). No receiver caught more passes than the third-year wideout through the first two weeks. Short, intermediate, deep, red zone, endzone - Taylor’s won everywhere. He’s gone from a possible roster cut to a near-lock.
LB Dre Greenlaw
Greenlaw didn’t play like a rookie in his first training camp. He was disciplined, confident, routinely around the ball, and was rarely beat. Greenlaw made a habit of establishing himself early and often during team portions of practice. If the 49ers’ fifth-round pick capitalizes on his momentum with an impressive preseason, he’ll be tough to keep off the field come Week 1.
DB Tarvarius Moore
The 49ers didn't add the starting-caliber free safety everyone was expecting during the offseason. He might’ve already been on the roster. Moore’s ascension from safety fill-in to competing for a starting role has been impressive to watch. He was the speed, range, and length team’s covet at the position. Moore is still a work in progress but has shown flashes of what the 49ers are looking for.
CB Ahkello Witherspoon
Nothing about Witherspoon’s third training camp resembles a player who’s had a turbulent career with the 49ers. He’s owned the starting role since the first practice and looks to be the clear favorite opposite Richard Sherman. Witherspoon’s made a handful of plays that include an interception in each of the 1-on-1, 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 periods of practice. He’ll need to continue his progress through the preseason, but Witherspoon’s third offseason has been encouraging.
TE Ross Dwelley
Veteran tight end Garrett Celek’s offseason back surgery left the door open for Dwelley to seize the backup role behind George Kittle. He’s stepped through the threshold and then some. Dwelley’s reliable hands and ability to get open has made him a consistent target for the 49ers offense through two weeks. He’s likely to get an abundance of playing time through the exhibition series to further increase his stock among the group.
WR Dante Pettis
Pettis failed to take the step up many expected after an encouraging rookie season. The second-year wideout had his moments at camp, but was inconsistent and at times, unreliable. Drops were an issue for Pettis, especially if a defender was near the catch point. He struggled similiarly last year during this time. Pettis needs to utilize the preseason to show he’s more than capable of replicating his impressive end to 2018.
RB Jerick McKinnon
McKinnon tore his ACL before the 2018 season could begin. Eleven months later and the 49ers running back is still struggling with the injury. McKinnon made his practice debut on Day 9 without a brace, stating after practice that he was confident in his surgically repaired knee. Unfortunately, McKinnon was quickly pulled from practice, Shanahan citing knee soreness as the cause. He’s not expected to participate in the preseason and is a candidate to begin the season on injured reserve.
QB C.J. Beathard
The competition between Beathard and Nick Mullens for the backup role behind Jimmy Garoppolo hasn’t disappointed. The pair have both exchanged their moments, but it’s become increasingly clear that Mullens holds the advantage. Beathard’s performance through 11 days has been on par with what we’ve seen over the past two seasons. Mullens, on the other hand, looks improved, decisive, and comfortable. Beathard will need a strong preseason if he's to convince Shanahan he's worth keeping over Mullens, or as a third quarterback.
LB Malcolm Smith
Smith restructured his contract this offseason, guaranteeing him $4.1 million in 2019 whether he’s on the roster or not. An underwhelming training camp coupled with a handful of closely contested competitions at other positions has put Smith’s roster spot in jeopardy, in spite of the dead money. The addition of Kwon Alexander, Greenlaw’s emergence and the solid play of backups David Mayo, Elijah Lee and LaRoy Reynolds create a difficult scenario for Smith as he seeks to remain with the 49ers for a third season.
G Joshua Garnett
Garnett’s time with the 49ers may have finally run its course. The former first-round pick has been unable to remain healthy or have a significant impact over his four-year career. Garnett dislocated a finger at the start of camp and underwent surgery shortly after. His injury has prevented Garnett from earning his spot amongst the bevy of offseason additions along with the interior of the offensive line.
DL Nick Bosa
CB Emmanuel Moseley
WR Kendrick Bourne
DL Solomon Thomas
CB Emmanuel Moseley
DL Dee Ford
S Adrian Colbert
TE Garrett Celek
CB Jason Verrett
DB Jimmie Ward