As the 49ers head into the third preseason game of 2013, it’s hard not to wonder where things stand with the depth chart. Who is moving up and who is moving down?
The unofficial document recently released by the team (page 22) has hardly changed from Week 1 to Week 3, but playing time on the field tells a different story. A.J. Jenkins has been removed, but new wideout Jon Baldwin has not been placed on the chart. Marlon Moore, the team’s starting No. 2 receiver in the first two preseason games, is now placed behind Anquan Boldin on the chart instead of being behind Kyle Williams.
PHOTOS: PRACTICE AUG. 20
Before examining where things stand currently at some of the most competitive positions, here’s what Jim Harbaugh said of the depth chart on Aug. 7:
“The depth chart is not a painstaking thing that I go fill out. (Director of Public Relations) Bob Lange fills out the depth chart... I wouldn’t read too much into it. It’s not a painstaking process to fill out the depth chart.”
The 49ers coach maintained his stance on allowing the process of training camp practices and preseason games shaping the outcomes of the competitions.
“Facts are stubborn things,” he said. “How you play in practice, how you play in these games determine outcomes. So, that’s where we’re at in the process.”
Judging by the playing time in the preseason so far, here’s what we can gather about the key position battles.
FS – Free agent addition Craig Dahl has started both games opposite of Donte Whitner and has been given first-team practice reps. Additionally, Eric Reid, C.J. Spillman and Trenton Robinson have been mixed in with the first-team defense at times in practice. Reid, the No. 18 overall draft pick, has played the most of the four in the preseason and will “probably” start against Minnesota, according to defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.
NT – The competition to anchor San Francisco’s defense has been mostly non-existent in camp. It’s no slight to free agent pickup Glenn Dorsey, it’s just that Ian Williams has been that good with the first-team. Dorsey will likely see reps across the defensive line this season, but Williams has been praised for his wide-ranging skills as the team’s starting nose tackle.
CB – Eric Wright remains the wild card in the group. The 28-year-old cornerback has not reported to the team after signing on Aug. 8. Wright is currently on the Non-Football Injury/Illness list. It’s not known what Wright can offer at this point, but we’ve seen a fair amount of competition from the cornerbacks in camp. Nnamdi Asomugha and Tramaine Brock appear to be going head-to-head for the team’s No. 3 cornerback role, a key position against pass-heavy teams.
QB – Colin Kaepernick has been in bubble wrap all preseason. It’s for good reason, the 49ers don’t want anything “freakish” to happen. Behind Kap, Colt McCoy and Scott Tolzien have essentially alternated drives to play with the first- and second-team offensive lines. Both have had good and bad moments, according to Harbaugh. Rookie B.J. Daniels appears to be the emerging player after leading San Francisco on a game-winning touchdown drive against the Chiefs, capped by a 14-yard touchdown pass to Chuck Jacobs. Daniels’ playing time against the Vikings will show how far he’s come in the competition.
WR – The most competitive spot on the team (11 players likely fighting for 5-6 roles) has been a hot topic all of camp. So far, Moore has made the most of his opportunities. Harbaugh now considers the free agent addition to be one of the top-three healthy wideouts on the team along with Boldin and Williams. Quinton Patton is now able to catch passes after breaking the middle finger of his left hand. If the fourth-round draft pick is able to play against Minnesota, he could have a chance to earn valuable playing time in upcoming games. The remaining receivers, including Baldwin, will use practice this week to earn more reps in the second half of Sunday night’s game.
More on the 49ers can be found in today’s Morning Tailgate.
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com noted that the 49ers will likely keep several players on the Physically Unable to Perform List to start the season.
Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle reported on who has practice squad eligibility.
Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News caught up with the man who drafted Baldwin, Scott Pioli.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee evaluated the current state of San Francisco’s wideouts.
49ers.com relayed Baldwin’s comments on his first day with the 49ers.
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