All eyes will be on the 49ers’ quarterbacks tonight, but a handful of other players are on the roster bubble and can help their stock during tonight’s preseason game against the Chargers.
Here are four players to keep an eye out for tonight.
WR/KR Nsimba Webster
Ty Austin wrote a great piece that highlights who Webster is. The return man who fills in at kick returner made a name for himself in Week 1 against the Chiefs with a couple of explosive plays.
The preseason is all about taking advantage of your opportunity, and Webster did precisely that when the Niners’ offense called his number. Webster likely won’t play until the second half, but if he can have another strong showing, Webster could claim the sixth and final wide receiver spot for the 49ers.
Right now, these five feel like they’re locks to make the roster:
- Brandon Aiyuk
- Deebo Samuel
- Mohamed Sanu
- Jauan Jennings
- Trent Sherfield
After that, there hasn’t been a consistent wide receiver. Webster offers special teams value as both a returner and a gunner. If he can prove to be more than a gadget player, he has a chance. If Deebo Samuel is out for an extended time, Webster’s chances of making the roster grow even more.
S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
Everyone loves a new face. During joint practices, Clinton-Dix didn’t necessarily stand out, but he didn’t do anything wrong. Clinton-Dix did his job. That’s all San Francisco needs the veteran to do.
When the defense is at its best, they’re flying around up front, and the secondary is making open-field tackles and limiting the big play. However, if the Chargers starting offensive tackles don’t dress, it could be a long night for their quarterbacks.
As Demmodore Lenior did last week, the defensive backs must be opportunistic. Clinton-Dix made plays on the ball during his first two practices. The former Pro Bowler will play himself onto the roster if he does the same during the game.
RB Trey Sermon
Sermon had a forgettable first performance as he averaged under three yards per carry and fumbled. I’d expect Sermon to perform significantly better and be more involved in the passing game with Jimmy Garoppolo.
I’m curious to see how many third-down reps Sermon receives and if that leads to 1-on-1 reps as a pass-blocker. The 49ers haven’t found their third-down back yet, and Sermon could win the job with a big day.
Sermon’s success on the ground isn’t all in his control. I’m not faulting him for last week’s performance as the offensive line failed to generate any resemblance of a push. That might be the case once again tonight. Keep an eye on Sermon, and if he finds any creases to cut his runs back. If so, expect a big night.
EDGE Samson Ebukam
Last season with the Rams, Ebukam generated 19 pressures, including five sacks on 173 pass rushes. Ebukam had a field day during Thursday’s joint practice, including a pair of sacks with the starters.
NickBosa won’t suit up tonight. I’m not sure there’s any point in Dee Ford playing. That means Ebukam and Arden Key will man the edges on obvious passing downs.
Ebukam covers an embarrassing amount of ground in his first couple of steps. But, pair that with the athleticism to get around the edge, and you have the ultimate wild card. Ebukam is still raw as a pass-rusher, but whether it’s winning around the edge or looping through the middle, he’s shown he has a knack for getting into the backfield.