The San Francisco 49ers host the Los Angeles Chargers for both teams' final exhibition bout of 2018. While it will look nothing like a regular-season game, here are some things you'll want to pay attention to.

Ah, yes. Week 4 of the preseason -- the game featuring backups, third- and fourth-string players -- where the vast majority of contributors will be out of the job less than a week from today.

For the San Francisco 49ers, they'll play this contest at Levi's Stadium Thursday night against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan already hinted at a number of players who won't see the field during the game. One player he did mention, however, was offensive guard Joshua Garnett. Garnett is currently battling it out with fellow lineman Mike Person for the starting spot. And while Shanahan also noted the starting gig is "Person's to lose," a strong effort from Garnett Thursday could change things heading into Week 1.

Garnett is expected to play against L.A. And according to The Athletic's Matt Barrows, linebacker Reuben Foster (concussion) and defensive end Solomon Thomas are both in uniform. One shouldn't expect either to play much, if at all, however.

Another player not likely to play is running back Alfred Morris, who turned heads against the Indianapolis Colts a week ago. "I don't think we need to see much of him," Shanahan said. "I think we have an idea of what he can do."

It's likely the Niners start their rushing attack with running back Jeremy McNichols, who doesn't project to make the 53-man roster. Additionally, the 49ers brought aboard former Humboldt State running back Ja'Quan Gardner to bolster what has turned into an injury-riddled tailback depth chart.

Gardner doesn't figure to make the 53-man roster, but a possible spot on the practice squad isn't out of the question.

If anything, many of those spots are up for grabs among squad-eligible players. San Francisco arguably has, at most, five or six roster spots available for the taking.

Two of those could be at wide receiver and at cornerback, where the Niners have some intriguing depth. Rookie wideout Richie James has had a solid preseason and will likely see a good chunk of playing time Thursday. Same with defensive backs D.J. Reed, Tarvarius Moore and Tarvarus McFadden. Look for them to impress the coaching staff as much as possible.

And for those hanging onto the Nick Mullens bandwagon, Shanahan also clarified C.J. Beathard will get the start at quarterback. Mullens will come in later.

The 49ers and Chargers kick off on Aug. 30 at 10 p.m. ET from Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara.
  • Peter Panacy
  • Written by:
    Peter Panacy has been writing about the 49ers since 2011 for outlets like Bleacher Report, Niner Noise, 49ers Webzone, and is occasionally heard as a guest on San Francisco's 95.7 FM The Game and the Niners' flagship station, KNBR 680. Feel free to follow him, or direct any inquiries to his Twitter account.

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