The San Francisco 49ers wrapped up the preseason tonight with a 23-13 win over the Los Angeles Chargers. With rosters being cut from 90 to 53 by Saturday, head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch have a lot of work to do.
After the game, Shanahan said that he plans to make most of the cuts tomorrow.
Lynch said before the game that it will be him and/or Kyle Shanahan, or both, who informs players of their release. He also said the mood in the locker room got a lot more serious in the last couple days. For many players, the end is near and that’s a tough place to be.
QB2 Is Decided
Shanahan said after the game that he has made a decision on his back-up quarterback, but he wasn’t ready to say just yet.
C.J. Beathard started the game and played the entire first half. He finished the night 5-of-9 for 31 yards passing, but he also rushed for 80 yards and a touchdown. Who knew he could do that? Even the man himself wasn’t quite sure.
“Honestly, I was kind of surprised like ‘Man, I can’t believe I just scored.” said Beathard. “I was tired and then a bunch of guys came over and jumped on me. I was out of breath, but it was really exciting…I don’t think I’ve ever had a touchdown run that long.”
For Shanahan’s part, it may not have been planned, but the end result made it ok.
“Yes, that’s exactly how I drew it up,” joked Shanahan. “I probably yelled to get down seven times during the play, and he kept going. It was awkward to watch but it was a cool play to see.”
Nick Mullens played the second half. Matt Barkley did not play all. Minus the touchdown run, it was not a great night for Beathard. That being said, it’s a safe bet that he will back up Brian Hoyer.
Making His Case
Cornerback Asa Jackson had a three solo tackle and two interception night, which certainly helped his chances of making the 53. Signed in early August, the veteran defensive back has had to play some catch up, but he’s done that and done it well.
“I’m still learning,” said Jackson. “…This is a new scheme for me…but I love it. It’s pretty corner friendly. It’s pretty, I don’t want to say, easy to learn but the rules and stuff make a lot of sense. I think having some experience in the league has allowed me to catch on kind of quickly. but I’m definitely still learning…trying to make the plays that I can make.”
The Bold-en The Beautiful
On the other side of the ball, Victor Bolden Jr. had an impressive night that included a 92-yard punt return for a touchdown, his second punt return touchdown of the preseason.
“My whole thing was this whole time, in preseason, was just take advantage of every opportunity I get,” said Bolden. “I feel like I did that on both chances.”
The questions remains as to whether it will be enough though. Each decision affects another, and Shanahan has to weigh all the options.
“It’s got to be everything else that you do,” said Shanahan “I know they were two real good plays. But, it has to do with everything else also. How much can he help us out at receiver? Is he the punt returner? Is he the kick returner? What else can he do if he isn’t? And again, what does the 53 look like?”
For Bolden’s part, he’s done his part. Now it’s out of his hands.
“To earn a spot on the team, it started in practice, since day one,” said Bolden. “I just tried to put a lot of great things on tape and…just continue to do that in the game as well.”
The Joe Williams Conundrum
Running back is an area that still seems very much up in the air for the 49ers. Carlos Hyde will start, and it looks like Raheem Mostert and Matt Breida will make the team. They’ve played well throughout the preseason, and they didn’t play tonight, which is a good sign for both. Tim Hightower is most likely not making this team.
For fourth-round draft pick Joe Williams, it could go either way. He had 10 carries for 53 yards but he also had a very bad fumble, and that has been something he has struggled with in preseason games and in practice. A running back who can’t hold onto the football is not good.
“If you can’t hold onto the ball it’s very tough to play in this league,” said Shanahan. “He’s had a few of them so that definitely is alarming. Something that we have to get fixed. Wish he could’ve stayed back in the game more. He hurt his ankle a little bit there at the end, so we had to get him out.”
Joshua Garnett had his knee surgery, and not the 49ers need to decide whether or not to put him on season-ending injured reserve or to keep him on the 53-man roster and then put him on IR. The latter means he could come back in six weeks.
In a trade with the Detroit Lions, the 49ers acquired offensive lineman Laken Tomlinson, so they will have some depth.
Stay tuned here over the next couple of days, as there will be a lot to discuss. Go Niners![NFL-49ers-footer]