The third preseason exhibition for the San Francisco 49ers will take place in Denver against the Broncos on Saturday night at 6:00 p.m. PT. This is usually the game where the starters will play more significant snaps compared to the past. They will play at the coach’s discretion, but often go under the second quarter.
Rather than have of who to watch, there are question marks despite the 23-6 win over the Dallas Cowboys in regards to the roster and first-team units. Here are some storylines and questions as we approach Week 3 of the NFL preseason:
1. How does the chemistry with Colin Kaepernick look with his receivers?
While training camp can show plenty of great highlights among the team’s defenses, it can’t be as exact when measuring against another opposition. The 49ers first-team offense has only played a handful of possessions in two games. While Kaepernick provided a nice throw to Torrey Smith and one overthrow, there is no sample size and not enough snaps in a game to determine on who looked good or not. There should be no problems with Anquan Boldin or Vernon Davis with previous experience, but the depth tight ends and receivers should be interesting.
2. Can the offensive line competition find separation?
The 49ers had the same five offensive lineman start both games, but the coaching staff said nothing is settled. Logically, we can assume Alex Boone, Joe Staley and Erik Pears will remain on the offensive line, but the center and right guard spots are undecided. They’ve given Joe Looney and Brandon Thomas the nod at the moment, with Daniel Kilgore expected to be out at the start of the year. Other players like Ian Silberman and Trenton Brown are still fighting for a roster spot.
3. Who becomes the greatest out of the “redshirt” players who sat out in their rookie year?
Trent Baalke drafted quite a few players in 2014 to stash for this season and beyond. Thomas has lived up to the hype thus far, but in the late rounds, we’re seeing Kenneth Acker emerge. We should get a better look at Keith Reaser, Kaleb Ramsey and Trey Millard hopefully in the coming weeks.
4. Could this be the first of many games without Ahmad Brooks?
The 49ers flew Brooks back to Santa Clara from Denver with the recent charges of sexual battery this week. However, they haven’t released him and the league most likely won’t suspend him until the legal process plays itself out. This could be a one-week aberration, but we would get a preview to how the defense looks without Brooks on the field this Saturday.
5. Will Jarryd Hayne be the official returner on special teams for punts and kickoffs?
Hayne has been impressive this preseason, but he himself tried to downplay it as well as the coaching staff. If we see more decent returns from him on special teams, his roster spot should all but be secured. It would be a bonus if he does something big on offense as an extra running back.