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Fann Mail: Setting Expectations for the 49ers Preseason Opener

The San Francisco 49ers are set to open their preseason slate on the road against the Kansas City Chiefs. A new opponent, scheme and venue will all be welcome sights for 49ers players. They'll look to carry over a strong training camp into a game environment.

As we gear up for Friday night's bout, here is this week's mailbag to help get you ready. Thanks to all who sent in their questions.

I'm starting with this two-part question. Lorenzo Jerome has proven to be a great find as an undrafted free agent. He's shown great instincts and is a regular around the football. Jerome has a pair of camp interceptions, and he hasn't shied away from contact.

Still, he is yet to prove anything in a game situation. That makes Friday a huge opportunity for him. He's been a primary benefactor of San Francisco's injuries at safety, but he will have to do much more to unseat Jimmie Ward from his starting role.

Newsom has been released from the hospital, which is great news. The team will continue to monitor his concussion, but thankfully there were no cervical spine fractures. He will not travel to Kansas City.

These questions go hand-in-hand because I do believe that wide receiver is one of the most competitive positions on the roster. San Francisco's new regime added Pierre Garçon, Marquise Goodwin, Aldrick Robinson and Trent Taylor. They also re-signed Jeremy Kerley. That's five. Teams commonly carry six receivers but rarely seven.

That means Victor Bolden Jr., Kendrick Bourne, Aaron Burbridge, DeAndre Carter, Louis Murphy, Tim Patrick and DeAndre Smelter are all competing for potentially just one roster spot. Each wideout has flashed in practice which makes the upcoming preseason games so vital.

Also keep an eye on who plays special teams. That's often the tiebreaker when splitting hairs during cuts.

This is the biggest question facing the 49ers at this point. Brandon Fusco is the favorite to start at right guard, but left guard is currently up for grabs. Zane Beadles and Tim Barnes are the top candidates. The 49ers might continue to work Daniel Kilgore at guard to see if he's an option, at which point they'd likely put Barnes at center. These preseason games might be a prime opportunity to mix and match and see what works best.

Shanahan did say on Wednesday that he's holding out hope Garnett can make it back for Week 1, but the coach knows it will "be a battle" to get there.

Hoyer is the outright starter, and will be under center against the Carolina Panthers in Week 1.

However, the No. 2 spot is absolutely up for grabs. Shanahan confirmed that on Thursday during a radio hit on KNBR. Matt Barkley and C.J. Beathard have been trading second-team reps during training camp thus far.

"C.J. earned the right to compete for the No. 2 spot," the coach said on the "Murph and Mac Show". "Those guys have been battling pretty hard."

Shanahan confirmed on Wednesday that Barkely will be the second quarterback to play on Friday following Hoyer.

Expect to see the 49ers starters for up to, but not more than one quarter against the Chiefs. That's what Shanahan said this week. That means Hoyer should have at least two series to operate Shanahan's offense for the first time in a 49ers uniform.

Barkley will be up next and then C.J. Beathard. The amount those two QBs play will probably be a fluid situation.

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