The San Francisco 49ers will close out their 2021 preseason on Sunday afternoon when they take on the Las Vegas Raiders at Levi’s Stadium. Sunday’s game will mark the first game in the Bay Area for the Raiders since leaving Oakland for a second time following the 2019 season.
Let’s take a look at the five burning questions to watch for this week:
1. Will Kyle Shanahan debut the dual quarterback system?
While he hasn’t named the starting quarterback for week one yet, Kyle Shanahan told reporters a couple of weeks ago that Trey Lance would play this season in certain packages and situations. This week during practice, he began the process of preparing this for the regular season. During the move the ball periods, Garoppolo would start the drives with Lance coming in to replace him for a few plays.
One of the main concerns with the dual quarterback approach is the possibility of throwing off their rhythm.
“I haven’t gone through it yet, so I’m sure, if I ever choose to do that in the regular season, I’m sure I’ll learn,” Shanahan told KNBR Thursday afternoon when asked about the challenges. “But I’ve always guessed is taking the rhythm out of somebody. I mean, for a quarterback, you get in a flow, and you can get hot, and then you can get cold. And I don’t know how much it would affect the individual in that way, just because I haven’t ever done it before.”
With Sunday being the final opportunity to practice this under game conditions, it would make sense to work the kinks out before the games start to count.
2. Will the full starting offensive line finally play together?
The 49ers invested heavily in their starting offensive line this offseason with the addition of Alex Mack through free agency and making Trent Williams the highest-paid left tackle in the NFL. Both have been practicing throughout training camp, however, they have yet to take the field for a game during the preseason.
Kyle Shanahan has mentioned that he would like to get everyone a few snaps this week, so we may finally get a glimpse at how this group will fit together.
3. Can Jalen Hurd make a strong case for a roster spot?
After sitting out a number of practices, Hurd has been a full participant this week. The primary issue for the 2019 third-round draft pick hasn’t been ability, but rather availability as injuries have limited him to only one preseason game to this point.
“We’re excited about him. I mean, we’re holding on,” Lynch told KNBR on Friday morning. “He hasn’t played in the first couple of years, but for good reason. He’s had legitimate injuries. But he’s been out there. We’ve had two really hard practices. And he’s done a great job in them. And it would be a really good thing for our team if he could be out there. So, we’re pulling for him, and he’s put in the work, and hopefully, he’s there, because he makes us a better team, if he is.”
With the 49ers expecting to keep six wide receivers on their final roster, now is the time for Hurd to show what he can do.
4. Will Jaquiski Tartt make his 2021 debut?
Jaquiski Tartt is widely recognized as one of the best safeties in the league when he is on the field.
Unfortunately for Tartt and the 49ers, the veteran safety has been unable to stay healthy. In many ways, Tartt is the Jimmy Garoppolo of the defense, playing in only 36 of San Francisco’s 64 regular-season games over the last four seasons.
The veteran missed the final seven games last season after suffering a turf toe injury during a week nine loss to the Green Bay Packers. The injury would sideline Tartt through training camp until this week.
When asked about the process for Tartt on Wednesday, Kyle Shanahan had this to say, “Going to see how he looks today. Hopefully, he can go these three days, show us that he’s healthy and can play at a high level. And hopefully, he’ll get some time in the game.”
5. Will Elijah Mitchell take the final running back spot?
After missing the 49ers’ first two preseason games with an abductor strain, Mitchell returned to practices this week. The rookie was given a number of carries and it appeared as though he was taking snaps away from JaMycal Hasty. With the 49ers likely taking only four halfbacks on the final roster, Mitchell will be looking to impress the coaching staff to prove he deserves a spot.