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Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports


Top 5 49ers Players to Watch During Rams Game

Jan 4, 2024 at 7:07 PM--


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The 49ers will be sitting key players versus the Los Angeles Rams and vice versa. Now, this is a perfect opportunity for a few players to show the coaching staff they can be players to plan for in the future. Essentially, this is like a preseason game with some starters playing and the rest being backup players. Looking at the game and how it's shaping up, the 49ers will be without Christian McCaffrey, Brock Purdy, Nick Bosa, Trent Williams, and Ambry Thomas (injury). It's possible George Kittle and Fred Warner sit, too.

The 49ers plan to rest some starters, but as Kyle Shanahan has stated, it's not likely they can rest everyone. So, since the 49ers may be without a handful of their starters, they could play many of their rookie players in a game that doesn't matter for playoff seeding. Here is a list of five players you should watch for on Sunday.

Defensive End Robert Beal Jr.


Robert Beal Jr. is a player I have been waiting to see play. He started the season on the PUP list but was recently activated and has only been active in one game. With no Nick Bosa during this week's game, the 49ers will have some snaps to fill. They likely won't play Chase Young as much as they usually do and will likely ask for Beal and Randy Gregory to see more snaps this week.

Beal is a player who tested off the charts during the Combine and has received high praise from defensive line coach Kris Kocurek for his speedy get-off. If Beal plays a handful of snaps, it will be great for the team to evaluate him as a player who has been working behind the scenes to improve. He may be the eventual starter opposite of Nick Bosa, with guys like Young, Randy Gregory, and Clelin Ferrell all scheduled to be free agents during the upcoming offseason.

Wide Receiver Danny Gray


Danny Gray is a second-year receiver who is known for his blazing speed—a dynamic the 49ers could use in their offense to create space. Is he another third-round pick the 49ers will have to move off of? Unfortunately for Gray, he has been injured all season and on the injured reserve. He had his window opened to return to the 49ers. He could be a player that can return punts and kickoffs for the 49ers. Rookie receiver Ronnie Bell had a few returns that had 49ers fans thinking of Kyle Williams, which is not good. If Gray plays, seeing his development as a route runner will be big. He can show enough for the 49ers to plan on him being their third receiver next year. Hopefully, Gray will show up and show out on Sunday.

Tight End Brayden Willis


Rookie tight end Brayden Willis should be in line to get more than special teams snaps. He has shown a few nice blocks during the season. With Ross Dwelley dealing with an ankle injury and George Kittle potentially not playing much, if at all, Willis should get some targets. I would like to see Kyle Shanahan use Willis more this game, even if it's in the fullback role that Kyle Juszczyk normally handles. Willis is a player who can handle the fullback and tight end role. Let's see what the young rookie can do; he was known for his yards after the catch and physical play coming out of Oklahoma. Hopefully, we get to see the young tight end rumbling and tumbling and making Kittle proud.

Cornerback Darrell Luter


I'm hoping the rookie gets some reps during the game. The 49ers are a bit thin at corner with no Ambry Thomas available and Isaiah Oliver playing safety. Whether the 49ers coaching staff decides to go with Jason Verrett at the outside corner spot or Luter is up in the air. It's likely they promote Verrett from the practice squad, and he gets the start. If they do play Verrett, I would like to see Luter get reps and let Charvarius Ward get a rest game. I was high on Luter coming out of South Alabama. He is a player I want to see play.


Linebackers Dee Winters and Jalen Graham


Sorry for giving six players instead of five. I couldn't choose between the rookie linebackers. So, I provided an extra player. These two young linebackers flashed in training camp, with Graham impressing me more than Winters. They are both players who can fly from sideline to sideline. It would be a great opportunity for the 49ers to get their young rookie linebackers the opportunity to get reps. Allowing for these two linebackers would be fantastic. The 49ers could use these reps as developmental opportunities and teach tape for the young players. I am more excited to see both linebackers to determine who could potentially be a starter next season in the SAM linebacker spot.

The 49ers could use this week as an opportunistic week for players. These reps for young players are important. If anyone gets injured during the playoffs, they may be counted on to step up. This week would be the week to see which players you can or can't count on yet. This is an opportunity for a player to step up. You may need one of these players down the road. The 49ers hope they won't need them until next season, but you never know when someone is going to be needed to step up.
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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