No. 2: Running Back Joe Williams
Second-year running back Joe Williams already has done a lot during training camp to show improvement over his disappointing 2017 redshirted rookie season.
That said, he still has a long way to go before ensuring himself a roster spot.
The path got a little cloudier Monday when the Niners announced intent to bring aboard Alfred Morris — a player who once thrived under head coach Kyle Shanahan during their tenure together with the Washington Redskins. But Williams can still take advantage of the fact San Francisco will be without both running backs Jerick McKinnon and Matt Breida for some time.
Breida, who is dealing with a separated shoulder, is likely out until the regular season. Perhaps longer. And if Williams’ primary competition on the 49ers’ depth chart is Breida, the latter’s absence only serves to benefit the former Utah product.
Williams’ 2018 preseason debut had some promising moments. Yet he finished with a mere 2.5 yards-per-attempt average on 11 carries — the most attempts for any Niners tailback versus Dallas. Shanahan clearly wants Williams to get a lot of looks, but that average will have to see a spike between now and roster cuts.
With Breida out, Williams shouldn’t see too big a drop off in attention this preseason.