The season is upon us and the 49ers open up their preseason slate against the Denver Broncos on Thursday. The 49ers have some interesting position battles worth noting and the slate of exhibition games will go a long way in deciding who will be with the first team come week one.
Wide Receiver: Obviously all eyes will be on A.J. Jenkins who will see a lot of action. The 49ers need to see what they have in Jenkins and even though he has started to play better in practice, game action is what will be most telling. Another receiver to watch is Ricardo Lockette who hadn’t made many plays in training camp, mostly because he was battling an injury. Lockette had his strongest practice to date on Tuesday, catching six passes in 11-on-11 drills. Some of the catches were especially impressive, including a finger tip grab against starting cornerback Tarell Brown. It will also be interesting to see how much action newcomers Austin Collie and Lavelle Hawkins see.
Center: Jonathan Goodwin has not practiced fully since July 28th and Daniel Kilgore has been taking first team reps. Goodwin is in the final year of his contract and the 49ers appear to be grooming Kilgore to replace him. It will be worth noting how Kilgore does during his time with the starting o-line.
Free Safety: While Craig Dahl will get the start, all eyes will be on rookie Eric Reid. The 49ers did not move up in the first round of the draft to get Reid for him to sit. He has been taking snaps with the first team in practice but defensive coordinator Vic Fangio has said that the position involves a rotation between Dahl, Reid, C.J. Spillman and possibly Trenton Robinson. Reid will see a lot of action in the next four weeks as he prepares to eventually take over that starting role.
Nose Tackle: It was a surprise to some to hear that Ian Williams was currently in the early lead to start at nose tackle over Glenn Dorsey. If Williams plays well and wins the job, Dorsey will be regulated to a backup. Dorsey could be very valuable in that role as he can sub at any position along the defensive line.
Cornerback: The hot name here is Nnamdi Asomugha. He will most likely see action with the second team as he tries to battle his way onto the roster. The 49ers will also want to see who can distinguish themselves as a replacement for Chris Culliver in the team’s nickel package. The early front runner appears to be Tramaine Brock who Fangio said would see a lot of playing time Thursday.
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