Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Did Jeff Wilson do enough against the Chargers to prove his worth to the 49ers?

Aug 30, 2019 at 9:32 AM--

The San Francisco 49ers won't carry more than four running backs — not including fullback Kyle Juszczyk — into the regular season. They may go with three. Tevin Coleman and Matt Breida locks to make the roster. Neither played on Thursday night against the Los Angeles Chargers. Raheem Mostert can contribute on special teams and will likely make the roster.

Jerick McKinnon might make the initial 53-man roster but be placed on short- or long-term injured reserve soon after.

Then you have the fact that San Francisco would like to keep three quarterbacks. That will be difficult because that extra roster spot has to come from somewhere. Former third-round pick C.J. Beathard could be the odd man out.

What about Jeff Wilson? He competed hard during Thursday night's loss, racking up 100 yards on 20 carries with a touchdown on the ground. If the 49ers expose him to the waiver wire, could another team swoop in and snatch him up?

Twenty carries in the fourth preseason game is a lot for a player who might make the regular-season roster. Typically, the guys in street clothes on the sideline are safe and will be on the team come Saturday. Those who start the game and are pulled early are being strongly considered for reserve roles. Those who play a lot, as Wilson did, are less likely to make the roster.

Of course, Wilson averaged five yards per carry and had an impressive touchdown run in the first quarter after changing direction and behind a Beathard block (impressive on its own). Was the performance enough to convince the coaches and front office that he can contribute in 2019? Or were the 20 carries telling that Wilson might receive a phone call or visit from the Turk over the next two days?

Shanahan warned reporters on Thursday night not to read too much into the running back's workload during the game.

"I mean, it's that or throw, and we had two guys (Wilson and Austin Walter), we brought back (Brandon) Wilds for the week to see what happened," Shanahan said. "But no, you want to run the ball a lot in this last game, and when you block well, and you run hard, you usually get more carries, so that was a credit to him."

What did Shanahan think about Wilson's performance?

"Yeah, we wanted to run the ball tonight," Shanahan responded, "and he did a real good job in that first half. I think he got a little bit there in the third quarter; I can't remember exactly. Jeff ran very well. Walter ran well. I thought the guys blocked for him good also."

The roster cutdown will begin today with the 53-player squad being finalized by Saturday at 1 p.m. PT. And by "finalized," I mean temporarily finalized, if that makes sense. It is guaranteed to be tweaked leading to the 49ers' regular-season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on September 8. For example, as stated, McKinnon may make the 53-player roster but soon be placed on injured reserve, opening up a roster spot for someone else.

Maybe Wilson did enough against the Chargers to prove he should be brought back, assuming another team wasn't impressed by Thursday night's outing.

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