49ers preseason week 2; What to look for against Minnesota

The 49ers are ready for week two of the preseason. San Francisco traveled to Minnesota on Monday, where they participated in joint practice sessions with the Vikings on Wednesday and Thursday. On Saturday night, the two teams will face off at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

Here is what to watch against the Vikings.

Who is playing?

Don’t expect to see many of the starters. Kyle Shanahan told reporters last week he feels the two practice sessions are more beneficial than the game. 

With a short week coming up, the 49ers play their preseason finale on Thursday night in Houston; the initial plan was for Trey Lance and others to sit against Minnesota. 

Things to look for: If the starters are out, that will mean extended playing time for those looking to make the final roster. San Francisco is very deep, making it interesting to see which players on the bubble step up. 

Those bubble players to watch include rookies Jason Poe, Jordan Mason, and Tariq Castro-Fields. Veterans to watch for include Jordan Willis, Ross Dwelley, Colton McKivitz, Justin Skule, and Jordan Mills.

One last thing, after releasing Josh Hokit to get the roster down to 85, the 49ers only have one fullback on the roster. With starter Kyle Juszczyk unlikely to play, keep an eye out for Ross Dwelley or another tight end to fill this role against the Vikings.

Offensive line

While starting tackles Trent Williams and Mike McGlinchey aren’t likely to play, Aaron Banks, Spencer Burford, and Jake Brendel should see action. The young interior of the 49ers offensive line needs as much time as possible to come together. 

Things to look for: The interior held up well against Green Bay; it was the edge that struggled. Will the 49ers stick with Colton McKivitz and Justin Skule at tackle, or will veteran Jordan Mills break into the starting lineup? The veteran has looked better than both McKivitz and Skule in pass protection. 

Undrafted rookie free agent Jason Poe has been one of the most improved players in training camp. He looked strong last Friday against Green Bay and is on the roster bubble. 

Nick Zakelj, a sixth-round draft pick, took his first reps at center during the joint practices with the Vikings. Will he get some snaps there in the game as well?

Cornerback

With starters Charvarius Ward and Emmanuel Moseley out, the 49ers signed Ken Crawley on August 10. The six-year NFL veteran has quickly moved past Ambry Thomas and Deommodore Lenoir on the depth chart. 

At nickelback, rookie Samuel Womack appears in line to be the starter after San Francisco released Darqueze Dennard on Monday.

Things to look for: This group was beaten repeatedly by Vikings receivers on Wednesday before bouncing back the next day. Which version of the backup cornerbacks shows up for the game?

Samuel Womack has spent nearly all his time working from the slot, but he took a few snaps on the outside during Monday’s practice in Santa Clara. Will he get time there in the game as well?

Safety

The 49ers lost starting safety Jimmie Ward to a hamstring injury. The injury suffered by Ward during Sunday’s practice was bad enough to leave his availability for week one in question.

Things to look for: If Ward cannot play week one, the 49ers will be forced to start either Tarvarius Moore or George Odum alongside second-year safety Talanoa Hufanga.

After having tight coverage on the first ball thrown in his direction against Green Bay, Moore struggled in coverage. The most glaring mistake came when rookie Romeo Doubs ran right past Moore for a long touchdown. 

Undrafted rookie free agent Qwuantrezz Knight may get more action this week. Knight and Odum each had interceptions during the joint practice sessions this week. Can Knight or Taylor Hawkins do enough to keep San Francisco from adding a veteran safety?

Running back 

Trey Sermon was seen limping to the team bus following Thursday’s practice leaving his availability for Saturday night in doubt. There has been no injury update from the team since Wednesday. 

Things to look for: Rookie Tyrion Davis-Price, best known for his power in college, was unimpressive in his NFL debut against Green Bay. Davis-Price spent too much time dancing in the backfield instead of hitting the hole. 

While Davis-Price was dancing, JaMycal Hasty did the opposite. Hasty repeatedly hit the hole with abandon on the way to an average of more than seven yards per attempt.

Undrafted rookie free agent Jordan Mason was solid against Green Bay as well. Mason looks like the perfect back for Kyle Shanahan; every movement he makes is downhill.

Jeff Wilson Jr. missed the Packers game due to personal reasons.

Things to look for: Has Davis-Price cleaned up his game, or will he keep dancing? Can Hasty and Mason repeat their solid performances from week one? Will Jeff Wilson Jr. dress?

This article has 10 Comments

  1. I hope they kept Hokit’s phone #. Unless Dwelley has made enormous strides as a blocker out of the back field they may still need Hokit. In 2019 Dwelley whiffed on at least half of his blocks when he replaced an injured Juice. Jack do you know if the veterans P.S. is still a thing this year?

    1. from nfl.com

      Beginning in the 2022 season, NFL practice squads consist of up to 16 players — an increase from the 12 such players allowed in 2020 and ’21. The original CBA called for an expansion to 14 players in 2022, but the NFL and NFLPA agreed on an amendment in May of 2022. For the 2022 campaign, these squads are compiled on Aug. 31, after players released on Aug. 30 have cleared waivers.

      All players with zero accrued seasons and those with fewer than nine regular-season games in their lone accrued season are eligible for the practice squad. Furthermore, teams can have up to 10 players with two or fewer accrued seasons and up to six players with unlimited accrued seasons on the practice squad.

      A practice squad player is eligible to negotiate and sign to any team’s active roster at any time during the League Year. However, such a player is prohibited from signing to another team’s practice squad. Essentially, no practice squad hopping.

      One caveat: A player can’t sign with his team’s next opponent after 4 p.m. ET on the sixth day before said game. The timeframe changes to 10 days during bye weeks. After the conference championships, no player from a Super Bowl practice squad can sign with the opponent.

  2. Looking closely at Mason and Poe. Both look to be undrafted gems. Niners do well with undrafted picks. I am also looking for Purdy to do well. Brendel is a real concern and Poe just might be his replacement. Skule may be playing for his job.

  3. from nfl.com……
    Beginning in the 2022 season, NFL practice squads consist of up to 16 players — an increase from the 12 such players allowed in 2020 and ’21. The original CBA called for an expansion to 14 players in 2022, but the NFL and NFLPA agreed on an amendment in May of 2022. For the 2022 campaign, these squads are compiled on Aug. 31, after players released on Aug. 30 have cleared waivers.

    All players with zero accrued seasons and those with fewer than nine regular-season games in their lone accrued season are eligible for the practice squad. Furthermore, teams can have up to 10 players with two or fewer accrued seasons and up to six players with unlimited accrued seasons on the practice squad.

    A practice squad player is eligible to negotiate and sign to any team’s active roster at any time during the League Year. However, such a player is prohibited from signing to another team’s practice squad. Essentially, no practice squad hopping.

    One caveat: A player can’t sign with his team’s next opponent after 4 p.m. ET on the sixth day before said game. The timeframe changes to 10 days during bye weeks. After the conference championships, no player from a Super Bowl practice squad can sign with the opponent.

  4. This got me hella fired up! You are the best niners beat reporter in the bay.

    Can’t wait to see the running game tonight.

    Also keeping my eye on the first 15 plays Kyle runs. You know that dude is watching his own script play out.

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