49ers vs. Chargers: 5 players who need a strong game to stay on roster
By Peter Panacy
No. 1: 49ers Defensive Tackle Zach Kerr
Journeyman defensive tackle Zach Kerr was a personal-favorite offseason free-agent signing by the 49ers, and there’s an awfully good chance he winds up playing this season somewhere else.
At the time of Kerr’s signing, the Niners weren’t quite committed to their starting nose tackle, D.J. Jones. And Jones’ primary backup, Kevin Givens, was mired in off-field legal issues.
San Francisco 49ers
Jones returned, Givens’ legal charges were dropped and now Kerr potentially finds himself on the outside, looking in. Teams simply don’t carry three nose tackles on a regular-season roster.
Givens has been one of defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans’ favorite players during training camp, and the signs are pointing towards Givens being Jones’ primary backup, even though Kerr got on the preseason Week 1 stat sheet with a tackle and 24 total defensive snaps played.
Ideally, someone like Kerr will make it extremely tough for both Ryans and Kyle Shanahan to trim a player, at best, pushing someone like Givens out of the equation.
That’ll be tough, though.
Typically, teams cut or waive veterans early in the process if they know those players stand a good chance of signing elsewhere, thereby giving those same players an “early run” on free agency. With the next wave of roster cuts scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 24, there’s a strong possibility Kerr winds up being let go.
A strong game against the Chargers could do one of two things: convince San Francisco he’s worth keeping or serve as a selling point for Kerr’s next employer.
The 49ers and Chargers kick off on Sunday, Aug. 22 at 7:30 p.m. ET from SoFI Stadium in Southern California.