@LevisStadium

@LevisStadium



Unlike most offseasons, the 2017 NFL season has a new rule change that will make tonight's game an important one for players on the bubble.

In prior years, teams gradually trimmed down their initial 90-man training camp roster in two cut-down periods before the regular season kicked off. The NFL eliminated the first roster cut-down period, which now creates a dramatic shift on Saturday when teams must trim down their 90-man roster to the final 53 players for the 1 PM PST deadline.

While I don't expect many (if any) of the starters to get much playing time in the final dress rehearsal, here are a couple thoughts heading into the final preseason game against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Jimmie Ward — The "breakout" free safety who's slated for a big year has yet to play this preseason as he has been dealing with a hamstring injury. It would be nice to see him get some reps tonight; mental reps can only get you so far before the season opener.

Aaron Lynch — What's the deal with Aaron Lynch? They've been playing him extensively this preseason, even in the fourth quarter. Are they trying to get him into shape or are they showcasing him for a possible trade? He's been another "bubble" player who has been looking to prove himself in front of the new regime.

Special Teams — There are three players who I'm keeping an eye on tonight: Trent Taylor, Victor Bolden, and Raheem Mostert. All three players have been having strong preseasons thus far but with strong finishes tonight, they could really push the front office to make a decision on Saturday. Taylor is a lock for the roster, while Bolden has been climbing up the ranks. Collectively, their ascensions as both slot receivers and returners could make Jeremy Kerley expendable. Mostert had a huge game last week against the Vikings and needs another solid performance if he hopes to make team, perhaps as a gunner on special teams.

Offensive Line — The 49ers just traded a 2019 fifth-round pick for Lions' guard Laken Tomlinson today, which shows their displeasure with their current group. Jeremy Zuttah was released earlier this offseason which means they're still looking to solidify the interior. Garry Gilliam and Tim Barnes are free agent veterans but Erik Magnuson has emerged as a surprise candidate to fill out the roster.