49ers vs. Raiders: 5 Niners who must start 2023 preseason hot

The 49ers head to Vegas this weekend to take on the Raiders to open their preseason. Here's a look at five players who need to step up to secure a roster spot or role for 2023.
San Francisco 49ers v Las Vegas Raiders
San Francisco 49ers v Las Vegas Raiders / Michael Zagaris/GettyImages
5 of 6
Ambry Thomas
Washington Commanders v San Francisco 49ers / Michael Zagaris/GettyImages

CB Ambry Thomas

Ambry Thomas is another young player who has a major hill to climb in order make the roster and find a role for himself in 2023.

Thomas' ride has been pretty up and down during his two seasons in the NFL. He finished the 2021 season as a starter, intercepting Rams' quarterback Matt Stafford to close out the regular season and clinch the 49ers' NFC West title that year.

But he lost that role early in training camp last season when the 49ers signed Charvarious Ward as a free agent and Emmanuel Moseley slid in opposite the new signing.

When Moseley was injured in Carolina, Thomas was not the next man up, as fellow second-year man Deommodore Lenoir took over for Moseley and never relinquished the job, turning into a player that opposing teams did not want to test as the season went along.

The drafting of Darrell Luter in the 5th round of the 2023 NFL Draft along with the free agent addition of Isaiah Oliver has made Thomas' position all the more precarious, not to mention the ascension of UDFA rookie D'Shawn Jamison during the early part of training camp.

So while a guy like Jamison or Qwauntrezz Knight might have more to gain from showing out during this weekend in Las Vegas, Ambry Thomas could be playing for his football life here, something he seems to understand based on his performance so far this offseason.

If he can do that, he can begin to build the trust of the coaching staff and earn a role in this crowded cornerback room. If not, he may be looking for new home when roster cuts happen on August 29.