Thursday night marks the final preseason game for the San Francisco 49ers and the rest of the league. All 32 NFL teams will be in action tonight as they gear up for the start of the regular season next week.
[Related: 49ers vs Chargers Game Day Information]
Here are five players to watch in tonight’s game against the San Diego Chargers:
Marlon Moore: All indications point to Moore being the No. 2 wide receiver for the Niners at the start of the regular season. He has been leading the receivers pack vying for a starting job opposite Anquan Boldin all during training camp. He has started all three preseason games and played exceptionally well. Last week against the Minnesota Vikings, he was targeted a team-high seven times and had three catches for 32 yards.
Nnamdi Asomugha: According to defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, Asomugha holds the edge in earning the third position on the depth chart at cornerback. Asomugha is competing against four-year veteran Tramaine Brock. The position is Asomugha’s to lose. If he plays well tonight, he has guaranteed himself a spot on the Niners roster and, more importantly, the No. 3 cornerback position.
Lavelle Hawkins: For a receiver who has only been on the roster since August 2, he has impressed the Niners coaching staff in just a few weeks. However, the reason he will likely make the regular season roster is not because of his skills at wide receiver, but on specials teams. Against the Vikings, he returned an amazing 105-yard kick return for a touchdown.
LaMichael James and Kyle Williams are the expected returners on kickoffs and punts this season. But should Hawkins make some more impressive plays, and scores, on returns tonight he will force himself onto the roster.
Vance McDonald: One of the big players lost for the 49ers in the offseason was tight end Delaine Walker who signed with the Tennessee Titans. Walker was so valuable not only blocking on runs, but catching passes off the line of scrimmage. Enter rookie tight end Vance McDonald.
Even though McDonald missed the preseason game against the Chiefs, he is tied for the team’s lead in receptions with six and he leads all receivers with 90 yards. Just like last week, expect to see a lot of McDonald both catching passes and blocking. By mid-season, Niner fans will all have forgotten about losing Walker with the way McDonald will play on the field.
B.J. Daniels: With a fourth quarter, game-winning touchdown drive against the Chiefs in Week 2 of the preseason and the way he played against the Vikings, Daniels secured a spot on the Niners’ roster. The rookie QB is battling it out with Seneca Wallace for the third spot on the roster. I believe he is capable of being the backup to Colin Kaepernick and he should be higher on the depth than Colt McCoy.
The reason being is Daniels has shown he can run the read-option effectively and he has a strong arm with a quick release. He has come a long way in a short amount of time. In the first preseason game, the 49ers had him lining up on special teams and even at running back. He has played so well since then that he is only playing at quarterback now and doing it with much success. If he outplays McCoy tonight like he has in previous games, Jim Harbaugh might have to bump him up on the depth chart.