It’s nearly gametime between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs. Before kickoff, check out what Kyle Shanahan had to say about two of the team’s marquee position battles.
The 49ers head coach joined the “Murph and Mac Show” on KNBR and discussed some of the names jockeying for roster spots. Here’s the best of what Shanahan had to say on Thursday.
1. Backup QB Battle
Pierre Garçon will be the 49ers starting quarterback in 2017. That much we know. What is yet to be determined is who will serve as San Francisco’s backup. Matt Barkley holds the job right now and will be the first quarterback off the bench Friday night against the Chiefs.
C.J. Beathard will also see plenty of playing time in the preseason opener. The 2017 third-round pick has made steady progress during camp and has a legit shot at winning the backup role.
“We’ve been rotating with those guys,” Shanahan said. “Matt Barkley got the reps with the twos throughout OTAs, but C.J. did a great job with the threes. … We felt coming in (to camp) that C.J. earned the right to compete for the No. 2 spot. That’s how we’ve been doing it so far, and we’ve been rotating them throughout practice. Those guys have been battling pretty hard.”
2. Breaking the Tie at Tight End
We knew tight end was going to be one of the better position battles on San Francisco’s roster. However, Garrett Celek’s strong play thus far has only made things more intriguing. Many believed that the veteran tight end was on his way out following the additions of Logan Paulsen, George Kittle and Cole Hikutini. Shanahan and John Lynch have even admitted that they were shopping McDonald during the draft.
But now things are a total toss up. Here’s Shanahan’s lengthy response in regards to the 49ers six tight ends and how they all stack up.
“Our tight end position is as good of a competition as we’ve got on our roster,” the coach began. “Vance was a little behind the eight ball in terms of learning the offense and getting the reps. Training camp started out that way, but each week he’s gotten better. I think Vance has turned it up for us. He’s been competing physically in the run game and the pass game. He’s also been working on special teams.
“I believe we’ve got six guys there who all have a chance on this team. Unfortunately, it’s very hard to keep six people. We are trying to get these guys in a good situation to evaluate them. We do it in practice every day, and we’ll try to do the same thing in the games.
“Tight end is interesting because you need different types of people. You ask these guys to do a lot of different things. You ask some guys to help in the pass game and the run game. Some guys have to be extremely efficient in the run game but still be able to catch check downs. A couple guys need to be able to beat man-to-man coverage. I believe we have six guys who have NFL traits. We’ve got to figure out the best way to get the best package to help our 53-man roster.”