Which roster bubble players will step up?
For any roster bubble player, these preseason games are critical to their chances of making the final 53-man roster. They need to stand out to be seen by the coaches as the last thing they want is for them to finish the same as a similar positioned teammate, which would lead to a toss-up decision.
One of the biggest depth positions on the squad is at the cornerback position. Players on the roster bubble include Chris Davis, Kenneth Acker and Keith Reaser.
Davis had an excellent game against the Texans, whereas Acker and Reaser haven’t had the same level of success, according to Niner Noise’s Peter Panacy:
"Cornerback Chris Davis had a strong effort in the Niners’ preseason opener, and he could be a candidate for the nickel back position. Third-year corner Keith Reaser has had coverage issues during offseason programs and also had up-and-down moments throughout the first preseason game versus Houston. Fellow corner Kenneth Acker also didn’t display much prowess in coverage. Both have to be considered bubble-watch players at this point."
Another position of depth is the linebacker position. The better known players on the bubble watch are Nick Bellore, Shayne Skov and Marcus Rush. Bellore and Skov were key special teams players last season, and each recorded a sack against the Texans.
To make the final roster, Bellore and Skov will need to have another good game against the Broncos. Their best chance is still on special teams, but anything they continue to show on defense is also helpful.
Rush is unlikely to make the final roster, unless he simply kills the Broncos offense and does it again in the remaining games.
Another position of depth is at wide receiver. Eric Rogers is out for the season with a torn ACL, and fellow wideout DeAndre Smelter, after missing all of his rookie season, is suffering from a “soft tissue injury” to his leg and is yet to appear on the field, though the 49ers expect him to play at some point during this preseason.
Other players on the bubble include Bryce Treggs, Jerome Simpson and Devon Cajuste. Niner Noise’s Peter Panacy believes this trio should make the final squad:
"Veteran wide receiver Jerome Simpson has had a solid training camp and, per Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee (h/t KNBR 680), no one else has really stepped up and separated himself in this open-ended competition. Head coach Chip Kelly will probably keep six receivers on his roster this season. So far, three are locks. And Simpson could end up securing the fourth slot. Rookies Bryce Treggs and Devon Cajuste make it onto the strong-bubble list for a couple of different reasons. Treggs, despite some problems versus the Texans, has performed well in camp. Cajuste, whose hands are amazing, is a 6-foot-4 red-zone threat."
The running back position is another position to watch. Mike Davis had an excellent game against the Texans, and showed a burst he hadn’t shown last season. He helped his cause. Fellow back DuJuan Harris had a badly-timed fumble on the two-yard line which didn’t help his cause.
Harris has good hands and is still a good candidate to play a part in the passing game on game day. But he has to show he can hang onto the ball if he wants to remain a roster candidate.
Next: Will we see any new wrinkles to the 49ers offense?