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5 players with the most to lose or gain in tonight's preseason finale against the Chargers

Javon Kinlaw isn’t the only recent draft pick who can help himself against the Chargers. Ambry Thomas could start with a strong performance tonight.

San Francisco 49ers v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

The NFL regular season is around the corner, and the 49ers will conclude their preseason with a matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers for the all-important “dress rehearsal.” Starters will play, it appears, in a final attempt to prepare for the regular season and hope to leave sharper and, most importantly, healthy.

Here are five players with the most to lose or gain on Friday with roster cuts coming up:

Javon Kinlaw

Unfortunately, the hype over Kinlaw’s camp performance and how in shape he is has not translated in the preseason. Realistically, the 49ers are looking for stable production as a rotational defensive tackle behind Javon Hargrave and Arik Armstead.

With the 53-man roster due soon, Kinlaw needs to take advantage of every rep possible to reinforce his case to make the roster. The expectations of the ninth overall pick have been stripped away. The team needs production from Kinlaw.

Ambry Thomas

Following his performance in Las Vegas, Thomas had some struggles against Denver in coverage and was hit with a penalty as the starting outside cornerback.

Thomas thrust himself back into the conversation as the starting cornerback but will need another strong performance to fortify his case to start opposite Mooney Ward in Week 1. The re-emergence of Thomas has turned Deommodore Lenoir into a possibility to start at nickel cornerback and gives the 49ers secondary more depth than initially believed.

Cameron Latu

The third-round rookie from Alabama has struggled with drops throughout training camp. Compounding the drop issue is the lost fumble against the Raiders.

Last week’s performance against the Broncos has Latu feeling better about his play, but he’ll need to stack preseason production to gain confidence from the coaching staff.

It sure feels like the drops are in his head, and perhaps last week’s touchdown catch is similar to a shooter who hits a layup while struggling with his jump shot.

D’Shawn Jamison

With Ray-Ray McCloud on the mend with a broken wrist, Jamison showed flashes as a punt returner in Las Vegas in the preseason opener. Last week’s performance wasn’t as impressive as Jamison muffed a punt that led to points for the Broncos.

Jamison has the return chops to be impactful but will need to be a bit more steady to gain the coaching staff’s confidence as the primary returner.

Ronnie Bell

Bell has been the most impressive receiver in the preseason, by far. Despite two drops that have led to interceptions, Bell looks like he fits right in with the YAC Bros. If Bell can add another solid performance tonight, he’ll be a virtual shoo-in for the 53-man roster.

Cleaning up the drops will be the last part of his game that needs refining. Bell has shown separation, toughness at the catch point, and yards after the catch ability. Bell feels like a Kyle Shanahan receiver if there ever was one.