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49ers vs. Raiders: Trent Williams’ return, Jalen Hurd’s debut, and more

Beyond Trey Lance, here’s what to watch for during Sunday’s preseason finale.

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Shanahan is treating the third and final preseason game as a dress rehearsal for the regular season, similar to previous years. He expects his starters to play the entire first half to fine-tune both sides of the ball ahead of the Week 1 showdown in Detroit.

While the 49ers don’t expect to have Dre Greenlaw, Jason Verrett, Dee Ford, and Brandon Aiyuk on Sunday with various injuries, the rest of the starters should be good to go. While all eyes will be on Trey Lance’s third preseason game, here are other 49ers’ players you should be paying attention to on Sunday.

Trent Williams

The NFL’s highest-paid left tackle has missed the last few weeks with a knee injury. Rookie Jaylon Moore stepped in and has played well in Williams’ absence, but there’s no true replacement for one of the most impactful players on the 49ers’ roster.

Knee injuries at Williams’ age are worrisome, so it’ll be something to monitor during his debut on Sunday. The 33-year old’s strong suit is his athleticism and mobility for a player of his size, so hopefully, his knee injury doesn’t limit what he’s able to add to the 49ers’ offensive line from a run-blocking standpoint.

Jalen Hurd

The last time 49ers’ fans were able to lay eyes on the former third-round pick, he was trucking defenders en route to the end zone in a preseason matchup vs. Cowboys.

Two major injuries later, Hurd is pushing for a roster spot, vying with Travis Benjamin, Jauan Jennings, and Nsimba Webster. While Hurd is likely the most talented player of the group, he’s also been the least available of the four players over the last few seasons.

Shanahan and Lynch both showered praise on Hurd’s ability on the field but recognized that his future availability would ultimately seal his roster fate. The former Baylor running back will make his return on Sunday, attempting to prove why he deserves to be one of the six receivers that’ll make the 49ers’ roster.

Nick Bosa

While his return isn’t official, Shanahan does expect him to suit up for at least one series on Sunday. The 49ers’ most dominant player missed the majority of the season with an ACL injury but looks to make a resounding return to the field starting Sunday.

After Bosa went down in 2020, the 49ers’ pass rush took a massive hit to its efficiency. Former defensive coordinator Robert Saleh had to dial up more blitzes last season to achieve the same level of pass-rushing success.

With Bosa and Ford’s return this season, DeMeco Ryans will sure have an easier time generating pressure against opposing quarterbacks. Bosa’s campaign for Comeback Player of the Year begins on Sunday, and I’m sure Jon Gruden’s will surely give extra attention to No. 97 when he’s on the field.