49ers vs. Chargers: 5 players who need a strong game to stay on roster

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) hands the football to running back Wayne Gallman (22) Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) hands the football to running back Wayne Gallman (22) Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /
1 of 5
Richie James, San Francisco 49ers
Los Angeles Chargers defensive back Brandon Facyson (28) tackles San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Richie James (13) Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports /

Even though the first wave of roster cuts is complete, a number of 49ers players find themselves on the fringes and need to perform well versus the Chargers.

There weren’t too many shocking surprises during the San Francisco 49ersfirst wave of roster cuts following their exhibition opener of 2021 against the Kansas City Chiefs.

The biggest name, perhaps, was quarterback Josh Rosen, who’ll now seek employment with his fifth team in four years. Yet Rosen, whose only realistic shot of making the 53-man roster was going to be as the No. 3 quarterback, was only a small fraction of the multitude of position battles head coach Kyle Shanahan and Co. will have to figure out between now and Week 1.

With the Niners’ current roster now at 85 players, and a preseason Week 2 road bout against the Los Angeles Chargers looming, those on the fringes of the regular-season group now find themselves hoping to prove their value to Shanahan and his staff.

Some may be trending in the wrong direction already, while others may have impressed against the Chiefs but will need to do even more to leave Shanahan no doubt they should stick around.

Here are five who are under pressure to perform at SoFI Stadium this Sunday.

No. 5: 49ers Wide Receiver Richie James

By now, the question of whether or not fourth-year wide receiver and return specialist Richie James will ever make a sizable impact for Shanahan’s offense has probably passed.

And for some additional context, our friends over at Niners Nation offered up a not-so-glowing report about James’ efforts, which included an untimely dropped pass against Kansas City last Saturday to go along with other drops he’s suffered during training camp.

James is losing placement on the wide receiver depth chart, thanks largely to the ascent of fellow wideouts like Jauan Jennings and Trent Sherfield, who combined with Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel, effectively leave only two spots remaining.

James’ return abilities might have made him safer heading into the preseason. But after watching another offseason addition, Nsimba Webster, serve as both a quality return specialist and offensive gadget weapon last weekend, it’s safe to say James is now heading towards the weaker end of the bubble.

Perhaps James is in his own head. Or, as the Niners Nation article suggested, this is unfortunately who James has been all along, and it’s time Shanahan goes with other options.

Either way, should James fail to perform well against the Chargers, his time with San Francisco could soon be coming to an end.