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Five 49ers who are hurt the most by no preseason games

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These players would have had the opportunity to showcase their skills and earn a spot on the Niners roster

San Francisco 49ers v Denver Broncos Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

The NFL and NFLPA agreed to get rid of all four preseason games during August after initially considering playing just one or two games. Additionally, rosters will go from 90 to 80 players. These changes are significant for every team, but there are going to be players at the bottom of the roster fighting for a spot.

The San Francisco 49ers will have to cut 10 players before they even report on Tuesday. Luckily, they’re in a position where most of the starting spots are locked up, but that doesn’t mean positions of depth won’t be impacted. While coaches do the majority of their evaluating during practice, games give you an idea of how players perform against an opponent that you’re not used to going against 20-30 times a day. Here are five players that will be hurt with the lack of preseason games.

WR Dante Pettis

This training camp is going to decide a lot for Pettis. The 49ers have a lot of questions at wide receiver. They also have a lot of talent. Pettis enters camp fighting for a roster spot, as he will need to show that he’s in shape, has shaken the drop issues, and can deal with contact. Last season, from the first day of training camp through the last time we saw Pettis on the field during the regular season, Pettis struggled when a defender got a hand on him. In practice, you can only have so much contact. Coaches blow a gasket when a player goes to the ground in non-contact situations.

There is no getting around contact in a preseason game. We would have had the opportunity to see Pettis in several situations where the coaches would have wanted him to excel, whether that’s going over the middle, winning outside, or creating for himself with the ball in his hands. Not being able to play in a preseason game hurts Dante. August would’ve given us a good look at Pettis, the punt returner.

Edge Kentavius Street

We’ll find out whether Jullian Taylor or Ronald Blair is healthy enough to practice on Tuesday. If those two will be forced to miss time, the 49ers are going to have to develop another edge rusher. Is that Kerry Hyder? Or long shot Jonathan Kongbo? We would have had a chance to see how Street is a year removed from injury.

Street only suited up for 38 snaps in 2019, and all of those came in the final three weeks of the season. He did not look like a player that was fully confident in his abilities. During the preseason, against lesser competition, Street would have had an opportunity to showcase his athleticism. Sure, he can do that in practice, but it’s a lot different when you can take the quarterback or ball-carrier to the ground. There aren’t any “quick whistles” to keep players safe from hits during the game. Street, along with some of the younger defensive linemen, will suffer without preseason games.

RB JaMycal Hasty

If I’m the Niners, I’m putting Jerick McKinnon in bubble wrap until Week 1. That opens the door for some of the younger backs on the roster. Hasty made a name for himself at Baylor for making guys miss. While you can do the same in practice, you can only simulate so many situations. Games would’ve given the coaching staff a good look at Hasty in situations like short-yardage or obvious passing downs for blitz pickup. I say short yardage as that would put Hasty in a position he’s probably not used to, but that’s the point of practice. As for blitz pickup, or running routes, that will be the reason Hasty makes the roster.

Lastly, Hasty was a stand out on special teams during his time at Baylor. Special teams are non-contact in practice, and it’s difficult to find quality reps to gauge whether or not a player is doing what he’s supposed to since you’re covering kicks on air.

CB Tim Harris

Harris was robbed of his rookie season due to injury, but that felt more like the 49ers stashing him. The preseason would have been a great opportunity to see the Niners sixth-rounder from the 2018 NFL Draft compete. Harris likely won’t play meaningful snaps in 2020, but he has a shot at playing special teams.

During the preseason, Harris would have played a lot. We know what to expect from Richard Sherman, Emmanuel Moseley, and Ahkello Witherspoon. We can’t say the same for Harris. With D.J. Reed injured and likely to miss significant time, another roster spot opened up. Harris will now have to impress during practice and hope that’s enough to earn a spot over the likes of Jamar Taylor, Jason Verrett, and DeMarkus Acy.