At this time of year, most fans are experiencing football withdrawals. So much so, that they’re willing to watch entire preseason games. Preseason games can be extremely boring if you don’t know what to look for. With one game in the books, here are a few players on the San Francisco 49ers to keep an eye on.
Ward was the 49ers’ first round pick this year. He was drafted as a safety, but with Eric Reid and Antoine Bethea anchoring the defensive backfield, he most likely won’t get many looks there. However, he is competing for the nickel corner spot. Ward has gotten some praise for his play during training camp, including defensive coordinator Vic Fangio saying: “Jimmie Ward doesn’t repeat mistakes.”
With all the injuries the 49ers have suffered at the RB position, the team is searching for a good backup plan behind Frank Gore. Hyde appears to be the backup plan. Although it was only one game, Hyde impressed in his limited time against the Baltimore Ravens last Thursday. Hyde carried the ball five times on the way to 39 yards against Baltimore’s first team defense. Hyde won’t be starting so he won’t need to play like a starter right away, but with Gore’s age likely holding him back, Hyde will most likely see a lot of playing time.
“Tank” Carradine was drafted last year in the second round. It was believed by some that he deserved to be a first round pick. Fortunately for the 49ers, Carradine was coming off an ACL injury, and because teams were afraid to draft him high, it allowed the 49ers to scoop him up in the second round.
Tank Carradine was my No. 5 overall player in 2013 draft. 49ers straight-up stole him in Rd2.
— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) August 8, 2014
Before Thursday’s game, Carradine hadn’t played in over a year. Despite this, he still logged 60 defensive snaps and even ended up with a sack. The 49ers are a little thin on the defensive line, so they need all the help they can get. Carradine seems like he can be just the help they need.
Dial came out of the same draft as Carradine, just a couple rounds later. Like Carradine, Dial was nursing an injury the majority of his rookie year. He saw a few snaps during the season but not enough to make an accurate judgement on him. Dial played out of his mind against the Ravens. He recorded 10 total tackles and forced two fumbles. With Glenn Dorsey and Ian Williams both injured, Dial is making a case for himself as the starting NT.
These are the three players that are all competing for the starting spot next to Patrick Willis. Wilhoite is the only one with starting experience at ILB, so he is the most likely to win that spot, but with three preseason games left, the competition is still wide open.