There’s an old saying in gold that you can’t win a tournament on Thursday, but you can lose one. The same applies to preseason football. On today’s Gold Diggers podcast, Michelle Magdziuk and I wondered which 49ers player needs to be at his best tonight against the Packers to avoid losing their spot on the team.
While ultimately, these games don’t matter in the standings, they do matter when it comes to roster decisions. Even though Kyle Shanahan has made no secret of his preference for practice in the preseason, he will also be watching what happens tonight for one specific reason.
“Just that the game’s not too big for them. That is the one thing that I do like about preseason games. It’s just that there’s some people that— some people get better when the lights are on, and some get worse. And obviously, you hope they get better, but you at least want them to be what they’ve shown in practice. And sometimes you get some guys who you think is a really good player, and you get out there, and for some reason, whoever’s in the crowd or whatever it is, they kind of just melt, and you’re like, alright, he’s not quite as ready as I thought.”
After what we’ve heard about training camp thus far, my choice was Ambry Thomas. After some early hiccups last year, it appeared that Thomas was improving with playing time down the stretch. Unfortunately, it seems we’re back to square one. As Kyle Posey wrote recently, “The second-year corner out of Michigan has been on the other end of what feels like every big play from the offense.”
If Thomas is going to claw his way back from the roster bubble, he’s going to have to have a good game against Jordan Love and the Packers. With Charvarius Ward and Emmanuel Moseley both out with injuries, he should have even more snaps available to help make that happen. The 49ers have added depth to their secondary this year, but part of that comes from the drafting of Tariq Castro-Fields and Samuel Womack. Surely the team would not have spent multiple picks at the position if they were totally confident in Ambry Thomas (and Deommodore Lenoir, for that matter).
Who do you think needs to have a good game tonight to get back into the team’s future plans? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to join the Niners Nation Instant Reaction live show after it’s over to break down everything that happens!