49ers vs. Chiefs: 5 must-watch players in 2021 preseason opener

Wide receiver Jehu Chesson #80 of the Kansas City Chiefs against the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images)
Wide receiver Jehu Chesson #80 of the Kansas City Chiefs against the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images) /
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Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance (5) Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports /

The 49ers kick off their 2021 preseason campaign against the Chiefs on Saturday, and fans will want to see how these five Niners perform during the game.

It’s weird to think it. But there’s an awfully good chance fans will pay a little more attention to the San Francisco 49ers‘ 2021 preseason campaign than they might have over the past few years.

Thanks to an inevitable switch under center from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to the rookie, Trey Lance.

The Niners haven’t had a true quarterback competition for some time, particularly such a high-profile one like this. Yet while that might be a good enough reason to pay even more attention to San Francisco’s preseason opener on Saturday against the Kansas City Chiefs, there are plenty of other reasons why this game could actually prove to be crucial in the formation of head coach Kyle Shanahan’s squad for 2021.

Preseason bouts are great for helping influence and determine more than just quarterback battles, and there are more than a handful of players worth watching during this exhibition contest.

Particularly these five, whom fans will want to observe closely on Saturday.

49ers Player to Watch No. 5: Quarterback Trey Lance

Naturally, Lance is going to be the top player fans will pay attention to during Week 1 of the preseason, if for no other reason than to see the 49ers’ top pick from this year’s NFL Draft go up against pro-level competition other than the teammates he’s faced off against in training camp practices the past week-plus.

By all accounts, Lance has wowed in camp and is rapidly closing the gap with Garoppolo en route to taking over the starting bid.

And with Garoppolo not likely to play much during Saturday’s contest, there’s a good chance a sizable chunk of the game will feature Lance instead, now going up against players and coverages he might not have experienced too much thus far.

Considering Lance had only one full year as a collegiate starter and attempted just 318 passes during his time at North Dakota State, Saturday’s game should serve two vital purposes.

First, it’ll allow him to face off against an unfamiliar competition. Second, and perhaps more importantly, he’ll get those vital reps needed to gain more experience.