Four Downs: Players of Interest in the Preseason Finale

It's time for our "Four Downs" preview of the San Francisco 49ers preseason finale against the Los Angeles Chargers.

First Down: Who will record the 49ers longest play from scrimmage?

Joe Fann: Aldrick Robinson

Last week, Robinson caught what should have been a 36-yard touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts. Instead, he was ruled out at the 1-inch line. But the play illustrated that Robinson still has the ability to make plays downfield. The veteran wide receiver should be starting on Thursday against the Chargers, and I expect him to see plenty of playing time as he makes one final push at a roster spot. He's competing with guys like Aaron Burbridge and Kendrick Bourne.

Keiana Martin: Richie James Jr.

Through the 49ers first three exhibition contests, James has eight receptions for 112 yards and a game-winning touchdown that came against the Dallas Cowboys. He's also added a number of highlight-reel grabs throughout the month of practice. James could see extended playing time on Thursday, giving the Faithful another chance to watch the impressive rookie.

Second Down: Which player are you most excited to watch?

Joe Fann: Ja'Quan Gardner

Why not go with the new guy? The Humboldt State product was part of the 49ers rookie minicamp, and he's back to play in the team's preseason finale. Gardner racked up 23 total touchdowns during his senior season in 2017 to cap off an immensely productive college career. It's likely to be him, Jeff Wilson and Jeremy McNichols who assume most of the workload out of the backfield Thursday night.

Keiana Martin: C.J. Beathard

Although Beathard has had a modest preseason performance, Kyle Shanahan publicized that the quarterback is undoubtedly the 49ers backup behind Jimmy Garoppolo. Beathard will get the start on Thursday and have another opportunity to remind fans why Shanahan is set on his QB2. Last year, Beathard scrambled for an astonishing 62-yard touchdown in the 23-13 preseason win over the Chargers. Here's to an encore performance.

Third Down: Which player will force a turnover?

Joe Fann: Tyvis Powell

Last year we saw Adrian Colbert introduce himself to 49ers fans with an emphatic hit and forced fumble against Chargers running back Kenjon Barner. This year, I think it will be another safety who earns himself a roster spot in the preseason finale. With the departure of Chanceller James, the backup strong safety role is up for grabs. Powell, who spent most of the offseason at corner, will get the first crack to be Jaquiski Tartt's backup. His position versatility helps his case at a roster spot, especially if he shows he's a viable option at both.

Keiana Martin: Jeremiah Attaochu

Attaochu has been a standout following consecutive strong showings in practice as well in the preseason. Last week, Attaochu recorded San Francisco's lone sack against Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts. Depending on how much he plays, he might have a few more opportunities to disrupt the Chargers quarterbacks. He's expected to play a large role in the 49ers pass rush, and I foresee Attaochu forcing a turnover on Thursday night.

Fourth Down: What is your bold prediction?

Joe Fann: Jack Heneghan throws a touchdown

Kyle Shanahan said that the 49ers fourth-string quarterback has earned some playing time in the preseason finale. If he does indeed get a series, I'm predicting in ends with six.

Keiana Martin: 49ers haul in three interceptions

There will be a number of talented players fighting for a shortage of roster spots on Thursday, and many of those jobs up for grabs are in the 49ers secondary. I expect an increase in urgency out of the 49ers defensive backs with. That's why I predict the 49ers defensive backs to have a big day, closing out the preseason with three interceptions.

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