The last preseason game is usually a yawner with most of the starters playing one series, if at all. Fans and players are looking towards the following week in anticipation of the start of the regular season. However for the players on the bubble and trying to make the team the final preseason game could be a difference between making the roster, the practice squad or being cut from the team. Here is what to look out for in tonight’s game.
- Nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin signed his franchise tender on Saturday and should see a lot of playing time against the Chargers. In reality Franklin will most likely only play in a few series but he needs to be out there as long as possible to get up to game speed. Throwing him out there in week one against the Seahawks without game speed practice will hurt Franklin and the defense.
- Bubble players: Fullback Brit Miller, tackle Alex Boone, linebacker Diyral Briggs and defensive tackle Khalif Mitchell are some of the players that are close to making the team and their play tonight could determine the difference from being cut and being on the roster. I think Miller and Boone have the best chances of making the team. Miller played linebacker in college and has done well making the switch to fullback. He will backup starting FB Moran Norris and it would be great to have two fullbacks on the roster. See the position the last two seasons. Boone should be a lock because of his development in training camp and the preseason games. Tackle Joe Stately missed games last season to injury and the other tackle, Anthony Davis, is a rookie starter. If something happens to either of the starters Boone is a great replacement.
- Phillip Adams was the 49ers last pick in the 2010 NFL draft in the seventh round. He played cornerback in college but the only way he will make the team is as the punt returner. The return game was an issue for the 49ers last season and with Adams excelling in the preseason which included his 83-yard punt return against the Raiders last week shows he is ready to take over the return duties on punts. Keeping an eye on him tonight.
- David Baas become the emergency center after starter Eric Heitmann went down with an injury. Baas struggled in the beginning of training camp learning the position but now he is playing like he been a center his whole career. Baas has shown a command of the offensive line and has done well reading the defensive rush. Last week against the Raiders Baas yelled at rookie guard Mike Iupati after an off-sides penalty.
- Travis LaBoy missed half of training camp with a concussion, after missing all of last season to ankle surgery. He has two sacks in two preseason games and was the one who knocked Raiders QB Jason Campbell out of the game. If LaBoy does make the team it will be a backup at linebacker. His value to the 49ers is his outside pass rushing abilities.
- Tarell Brown had been playing well until he faced the Raiders and speedy receiver Darius Hayward-Bey. Brown allowed two long passes for completions and his tackling has been suspect. Once a lock for the team he is now on the bubble.
- Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree will play tonight. The question is how long will they last. Crabtree should play the whole game as he has missed all three games this season. But QB Alex Smith is sitting out tonight’s game so if Crabtree was going to play in a preseason game tonight was probably not the best choice. Unless he was actually injured like he says he was.
Chargers vs. 49ers
Bill Walsh Field at Candlestick Park
Kick-off: 7:00 PM