Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

5 players to watch during 49ers vs. Texans

Rohan Chakravarthi
Aug 25, 2022 at 1:30 PM--

The San Francisco 49ers will play a majority of their starters in their final preseason game Thursday against the Houston Texans. That means the spotlight will be back on the top units after two straight games of limited action from first-team players.

With the starters back in the fold, let's focus on five 49ers to watch during Thursday's game.

1. LG Aaron Banks

The biggest, and most surprising storyline of the week involved UDFA rookie guard Jason Poe getting reps with the first-team offense at left guard, which, up to this point, has been occupied all offseason by second-year player Aaron Banks.

When asked about the topic, head coach Kyle Shanahan merely attributed the situation to a regular rotation of players by offensive line coach Chris Foerster, but this hasn't happened elsewhere this offseason at any spot except center.

Banks should get most of the reps with the first-team offense on Thursday, where he will play alongside left tackle Trent Williams for the first time this preseason, giving him an opportunity to prove himself and solidify that starting spot as expected.

After an underwhelming performance last week during the meltdown along the entire offensive line, Banks is a prime bounce-back candidate and will be a player to watch as the left guard situation continues to develop.

2. RB Trey Sermon

Another player entrenched in some controversy, running back Trey Sermon could be on the roster bubble after a couple of underwhelming performances in the preseason.

However, it's important to include context in his situation, as several of Sermon's runs resulted in minimal gain due to a lack of holes created by the offensive line, although the Ohio State product has been indecisive at times.

Sermon has flashed during several days of training camp while running with the first-team offense and has been higher on the depth chart than other backs on the roster. Tonight he should get the chance to run behind the first-team offensive line for the first time this preseason.

With Sermon on the roster bubble, he's certainly a player to watch as the 49ers have some tough decisions to make at the running back position.

3. DT Arik Armstead

Arik Armstead returned to practice late last week and is expected to see action on Thursday, marking the first time this preseason that he will line up next to Javon Kinlaw, forming an imposing and athletic duo at defensive tackle.

While I don't expect Armstead to play much on Thursday, it will be good to see the stout defensive lineman in action after missing a majority of training camp with a sprained MCL.

Even though Nick Bosa isn't playing on Thursday, the 49ers will debut their dominant starting defensive line, and Armstead's presence should help lessen the double-teams that Kinlaw has faced during practices and the preseason.

4. CB Deommodore Lenoir

With Charvarius Ward still sidelined with his groin injury, cornerback Deommodore Lenoir should take over opposite Emmanuel Moseley as the starting outside corner, where he will face off against the first-team Texans offense.

Lenoir has played well in the preseason, building off his strong training camp where he looked like the third-best corner on the team, and will face off against better competition if he starts on Thursday.

Lenoir has also seen action in the slot following the release of veteran Darqueze Dennard, and could serve as the backup slot corner to Samuel Womack while being the first corner off the bench.

The Oregon product showcased his tackling ability last week as well, which is a necessity for the slot position, so he's another player to watch as he sees extended time with the top unit.

5. DE Drake Jackson

The rookie pass-rusher has been a pleasant addition to this loaded defensive line unit, recording four pressures against the Vikings (according to PFF), while showcasing his traits during the entirety of training camp.

While Jackson hasn't seen much time with the starters overall, he could see some first-team action with Nick Bosa out of the fold, potentially giving a glimpse at the type of havoc this defensive line could create as the season unfolds.

Jackson will likely rotate with edge rushers Charles Omenihu and Kemoko Turay and is a player who continues to impress when given opportunities. He's a player to watch in this game alongside his interior teammates Arik Armstead and Javon Kinlaw while competing against the Texans' first-team offensive line.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


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