49ers roster: 5 players with most to gain in preseason vs. Chargers

Larry Allen Jr. #68 of the Los Angeles Chargers against Jordan Thompson #76 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Larry Allen Jr. #68 of the Los Angeles Chargers against Jordan Thompson #76 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /
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San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Chargers
General view of the line of scrimmage between the San Francisco 49ers and the Los Angeles Chargers Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

The 49ers visit the Chargers for Week 2 of the 2021 preseason, and these five players stand to gain a lot by performing well in the contest.

A number of fringe players on the San Francisco 49ers 2021 preseason roster can breathe a little easier knowing they survived the first round of cuts, even though only five players were let go and there are a number of other cuts on the horizon.

Others can lay claim to higher placement on the regular-season depth chart, too.

Most importantly for both player categories, there’s another round of exhibition chances on the docket, this time in preseason Week 2 when the Niners visit the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFI Stadium.

Rookie quarterback Trey Lance is clearly a player to watch, although the early indications are that he’s not quite ready to assume the starting role just yet. Even a strong outing against the Bolts might not be enough to convince head coach Kyle Shanahan that Lance is ready to start over the veteran, Jimmy Garoppolo, once the regular season begins next month.

These other five players, however, stand to gain a lot if they end up performing well against Los Angeles this Sunday.

No. 5: 49ers Quarterback Nate Sudfeld

One of those five players let go was a prime candidate for San Francisco’s No. 3 quarterback spot, Josh Rosen.

With Rosen out of the picture, fellow QB Nate Sudfeld essentially has a lock on this job, and his $252,000 in guaranteed money was a pretty good indication in the first place he’d beat out Rosen.

Sudfeld didn’t get any playing time in Week 1 of the preseason against the Chiefs, but expect that to change against the Chargers this Sunday. And even though the 49ers hope to never turn to Sudfeld at all during the regular season, this matchup versus LA carries plenty of implications for his immediate future.

There’s an argument the Niners no longer need to carry three quarterbacks on their 53-man roster, at least not with Lance serving as the understudy to Garoppolo. In the interest of saving that roster spot to beef up another position, Sudfeld is looking at the reality of being demoted to the practice squad even if he gets to keep his guaranteed cash.

A strong game could, at the very least, convince San Francisco that Sudfeld isn’t worth subjecting to claims by other teams once roster cuts are announced.

Or, if the 49ers do this, Sudfeld could still be auditioning for a higher-profile job elsewhere. And more pay as a result.