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 opinions 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 finalize 2022 preseason schedule with dates and times

By David Bonilla
May 20

The San Francisco 49ers finalized their preseason schedule, announcing the dates and times for all three exhibition games, along with the broadcast information. San Francisco will open the preseason with their only home game of August, hosting the Green Bay Packers at Levi's Stadium. Then, they will travel to play the Minnesota Vikings and Houston Texans. The 49ers will likely leave early for Minnesota. The two teams hope to hold joint practices together ahead of the August 20 matchup. Date Opponent Local Time Pacific



Complete 2022 San Francisco 49ers Schedule Revealed

By David Bonilla
May 12

The NFL revealed its complete 272-game 2022 regular-season schedule on Thursday at 5:00 p.m. PT. NFL Kickoff Weekend will begin on Thursday, September 8, culminating with Super Bowl LVII on February 12, 2023, at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. The San Francisco 49ers open their season on the road against the Chicago Bears. Their first home game comes during Week 2 against the Seattle Seahawks. The Niners' bye is during Week 9. They are currently scheduled to participate in five prime-time matchups this year. San Francisco's opponents combined for a 154-135 record last season. The .533 winning percentage by opponents makes the 49ers' schedule tied with the Kansas City Chiefs for the fifth toughest in the NFL, based on last year's results, and



Watch 49ers legend Frank Gore knock out opponent in pro boxing debut

By David Bonilla
May 15

Frank Gore's NFL playing date may be behind him, but the future Hall of Fame running back is enjoying another passion—boxing. The San Francisco 49ers all-time rushing leader celebrated his 39th birthday on Saturday by knocking out Yaya Olorunsola in the fourth round during his pro boxing debut. You can watch Gore deliver the crushing blow below (h/t Bleacher Report). Today was a great day!!!Want to thank my team for all the hard



Watch: 49ers provide first look at Trey Lance, others during OTAs

By David Bonilla
May 23

The San Francisco 49ers kicked off organized team activities (OTAs) on Monday. The first on-field session wasn't open to the media, though. Reporters will get their first look at the players on Tuesday. The 49ers did offer a glimpse of Monday's action, posting a video of players going through practice. We gonna set it off.#FTTB pic.twitter.com/L0NWJh5Ujs— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers)


Featured

More by Jack Hammer

More Articles

Share 49ersWebzone