By: Stefan Krüger (@jav95_)
Final Edit: @Zachhernan
Finally! Finally, we get to see real (well, you know what I mean) football again after months of nothingness and high-octane stretching. This Friday, the 49ers play their first preseason game on the road against the Kansas City Chiefs. I took the opportunity to write about some things I’m looking forward to the most.
Kyle Shanahan, the head coach:
We all know Kyle Shanahan, the offensive coordinator. Last year he showed he is the best play-caller this league has to offer. Now that he is a head coach, though, his responsibilities expand a lot. He will still be calling plays since he is simultaneously the offensive coordinator, but additionally to that he will have to manage everything a head coach does, time management, challenges, which players to play, injuries, etc. Just this Thursday he said on KNBR that he realized he had not even named captains for the game yet. It will be interesting to see how he handles all his new duties at once.
Kyle Shanahan said, he would play the starters for probably the first quarter. This will give us a first extensive look at the players atop the depth chart, both on offense and defense. Who will be the first players to trot out onto the field and, more importantly, how will they perform? I, for one, will keep an eye on our weakest position groups, offensive line and cornerback. The interior of our OL looks quite messy on paper right now and our cornerbacks get constantly burned by our wide receivers. Both groups in 1v1 have a disadvantage compared to game situation, so hopefully we see much needed improvement.
There are two groups of players I cannot make a prediction for as to who makes the 53-man roster and who does not. Those groups are running back and tight end. At running back only Carlos Hyde is safe and at tight end the closest to a lock is 2017 5th round pick George Kittle. Behind that everything is constantly in flux. I would like to see guys stepping up, separating themselves from the bunch. In particular, I am excited to see TEs Cole Hikutini and Vance McDonald and RB Matt Breida.
Bottom of the Roster:
Piggy-backing on what I just said on the position battles, I am excited to see the guys that are not talked about as much as the stars. John Lynch and Shanahan brought in over 50 new players and -to be perfectly honest- I could not name every single one from the top of my head. Maybe there are some diamonds in the rough among them? Judging from some videos of practice three wide receivers have caught my eye; DeAndre Carter, Victor Bolden Jr and Kendrick Bourne.
I have already named some of the undrafted free agent rookies and draft picks, but a lot are still missing in this preview. John Lynch received rave reviews after the draft for his selections and how he managed the other teams. Those players now get a chance to prove those reporters and analysts right. Everyone will be talking about the high draft choices Solomon Thomas and Reuben Foster, but I will focus on some other guys; C.J. Beathard, Joe Williams and Adrian Colbert. Beathard and Williams were the only two controversial picks for several reasons and can show against the Chiefs that they belong. Colbert offers an intriguing skill set in the secondary and we will see whether he can put pressure on the players in front of him on the depth chart, especially since that group is one of the weaker ones.
Bonus: Patrick Mahomes:
I know, this last one is not about the 49ers. However, before the draft I must admit I fell in love. Whether you like the QB prospect Patrick Mahomes, there is no debate about arm talent Patrick Mahomes. He is a rookie and will most likely play like one (despite having one of the best and most underrated NFL coaches in Andy Reid), but he will also make you sit in awe after airing out one of these incredibly ridiculous throws you usually see only guys like Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, Cam Newton or Andrew Luck make. If he makes only one of those, it will have been worth it.
I know I could list a whole lot more points, but I thought I would keep it short for a change. This new regime of John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan has given the fanbase a lot of hope and so far, they seem to have made all the right choices. This first preseason game will give us a first indication of what to expect and whether all this optimism surrounding the team is justified.
I am excited. Are you? Let me know what you are most looking forward to and what you expect from this game. Find me on Twitter & tell me what you think: @jav95_