San Francisco 49ers Preseason Week 3: 5 Things To Watch For

Aug 22, 2014 at 10:42 AM


The San Francisco 49ers are set to take on the San Diego Chargers in the penultimate tune up for the 2014 season on Sunday. Here are five things to watch for:

1) The wide receiver rotation: When the 49ers traded for Stevie Johnson during the draft the assumption by many was that he was destined to be the number three receiver in 2014. During his press conference on Wednesday offensive coordinator Greg Roman was asked if that would be the case, and his response was, "We don't put numbers on them."

This is nothing new. Roman and Jim Harbaugh have stated that they don't see receivers as #1, #2, #3 or as an X, Z or F.

We know Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin will be the primary receivers, but how they fit in after that is still up for interpretation. Brandon Lloyd got into the game against the Broncos on the first drive, and we saw Stevie Johnson in the slot on the second drive with Bruce Ellington and Quinton Patton coming in later.

With this being the preseason game that is usually used as a final dress rehearsal we should get a better idea of how the receiver rotation is setting up.

2) Return of the defensive line: The 49ers starting defensive line has yet to take a snap in the preseason. Justin Smith, Ian Williams and Ray McDonald have been nursing various injuries throughout training camp, but it appears they may see their first action on Sunday afternoon.

The return of Smith, Williams and McDonald could also help give a better look at how the battle between Michael Wilhoite and Chris Borland for the starting spot alongside Patrick Willis is shaping up. To this point it has been a bit difficult to read, and the poor play of the backup defensive lineman has had a lot to do with it.

3) Backup quarterback: To say the 49ers backup quarterbacks have struggled in the preseason is putting it mildly. After Sunday's game Jim Harbaugh said that the quarterback who doesn't turn the ball over will be the backup. This came after each turned the ball over.

Blaine Gabbert is the favorite to hold down the backup role. This is primarily based on the fact the 49ers used a trade to bring him in and also because his salary of over $2 million is fully guaranteed whether he is on the team or not. Gabbert struggled with his accuracy in Baltimore and although he was a bit better on Sunday his lone downfield pass resulted in an interception.

Josh Johnson throws a very pretty ball and looks smooth, but his results aren't all that much better than Gabbert's. On his second snap Sunday, Johnson had his foot stepped on by the center and then fumbled the ball away as he tried to make a play. Johnson is a guy the 49ers coaches are very familiar with, having cut him following training camp in 2012. It will likely take a big performance against the Chargers if he is to have any chance of unseating Gabbert.

4) Phil Dawson: The 49ers depend on their kicker perhaps more than any other team in the NFL, so to see him miss both opportunities in his first game at Levi's Stadium should be cause for a little concern. Not time to hit the panic button quite yet, but definitely something to keep an eye on.

5) The field: The turf at Levi's Stadium showed quite a bit of wear and tear during the opening game on Sunday, and it got worse as the week went on. After seeing his players struggling to keep their feet during an open practice session on Wednesday, Jim Harbaugh sent the team back to it's regular practice fields.

49ers management then made the decision to replace a large section of the turf in the middle of the field from goal line to goal line. It is not unusual for teams to replace their turf throughout the season, for example the Rose Bowl changed it's turf between the Rose Bowl game and BCS National Championship game in January, but for a team to replace it after a single game in a brand new stadium is.

As it turns out 5 wasn't enough to watch for this week so we have a couple bonus things for you!

6) LaMichael James: During his press conference today, Jim Harbaugh said that he expects James to see some action on Sunday. It will be interesting to see if he takes over the punt return duties from Bruce Ellington and exactly how he slots into the running back rotation.

7) Cornerback battle: It looks as though Kenneth Acker and Darryl Morris may be locked into a battle for the final cornerback spot on the roster. Acker had a fantastic outing last week against Denver and another solid outing could really put pressure on Morris to retain his spot on the 53-man roster.

Be sure to log into the 49erswebzone Sunday at 12:45 as I will be providing a live blog with information and analysis on the game from The Tool Shed.
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


2 Comments

  • craig
    Good piece. I'd also be interested to see if they have to use any timeouts to avoid delay of games.
    Aug 23, 2014 at 3:00 PM
    0
  • Randall
    It seems to me that to say the team is keeping Blaine because of his $2Million guaranteed salary is similar to saying "I used 10% of my savings on a bottle of poison so I am going to keep using it no matter what." What happened to the QB whisperer? I'll tell you what, the team keeps looking for "hidden gems" in the QB market - new toys, if you will. Maybe the team ought to consider developing a QB with good fundamentals by keeping one for more than two years.
    Aug 22, 2014 at 4:31 PM
    0

Facebook Comments



More San Francisco 49ers News



49ers' Kyle Shanahan on impact of no preseason, area where Jets may be tougher than Cardinals

By David Bonilla
Sep 18, 2020

There was some talk after the Arizona Cardinals pulled off the upset victory over the defending NFC champions at Levi's Stadium that the San Francisco 49ers may have been rusty. There's no doubt that the team was banged up entering the contest. It entered the game without two receivers who figure to be key contributors this season and its starting and backup centers out of the lineup. Then the 49ers' All-Pro tight end, George Kittle, suffered an injury midway through the contest. Although, he kept playing because ... well, he's George Kittle. But did the lack of a preseason impact the 49ers' performance during Week 1? Maybe. But it's probably not the only thing that affected the team on Sunday. It is worth noting that every NFL team was on equal footing when it

Read the Full Article


49ers' Trent Williams, Dre Greenlaw earn spots on PFF's Week 1 Team of the Week

By David Bonilla
Sep 15, 2020

Pro Football Focus released its first Team of the Week for the 2020 season, and, despite starting 0-1, two San Francisco 49ers players earned spots on the roster. Tackle Trent Williams and linebacker Dre Greenlaw were each considered among the best at their positions during Week 1 and were named to this week's squad. Williams even captured the Play of the Week honors after obliterating Cardinals linebacker Jordan Hicks on

Read the Full Article


49ers at Jets, Week 2 predictions: Most pick Niners to rebound from Week 1 loss

By Site Staff
21 hrs ago

The New York Jets are set to host the San Francisco 49ers at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on Sunday, September 20 at 10:00 a.m. PT. Each week, the 49ers Webzone staff predicts the winner within its annual NFL Pick 'em contest. That includes writers and forum moderators. All seven participating staff members selected the 49ers to beat the Jets. San Francisco is currently a 7-point favorite. As for all the fans who are taking part in our NFL Pick 'em contest, an overwhelming 99 percent have the 49ers winning the game, as of this post. The game

Read the Full Article

Featured

More Featured Stories

More by Jack Hammer

All Articles by Jack Hammer

More Articles

All Articles
Share 49erswebzone