Our 49ers.com writers are back to break down four pressing topics as the San Francisco 49ers host the Green Bay Packers this Friday night.
Let's get to the four downs of what you should look forward to in this "Four Downs" update, brought to you by SunPower.
1st Down: Which player can help himself the most?@Joe_Fann: Every guard on the roster
OK, so I cheated a little bit, but the fact remains that there appears to be serious competition for the starting jobs at right and left guard. Zane Beadles and Andrew Tiller held down those roles for the first few weeks of training camp. Joshua Garnett and Anthony Davis, however, are getting more reps with the first-team offense. The third preseason game is often referred to as the "dress rehearsal" for the regular season. If Chip Kelly opts to play the starters for an extended period, it's likely that all four guards will see playing time with the first group. Jobs may not be won or lost on Friday night, but cases will be made.
@TaylorPrice: Colin Kaepernick
The football world awaits Kaepernick's 2016 on-field debut. It appears like this will happen against the Packers, a fitting opponent. The 49ers signal-caller has enjoyed some of his best career moments against Green Bay. Look no further than the 2012 NFL Divisional Playoff round. Kaepernick and the team have wisely taken a cautious approach with his right shoulder. If the soreness has gone away, a rested Kaepernick can greatly improve his chances in the quarterback competition with Blaine Gabbert. How will the reps be split up this week? Man, this will be fun to watch.
2nd Down: What are you most excited to see on Friday night?
@Joe_Fann: The QB competition unfold in a game situationAs Taylor alluded to, we've all been waiting to see Gabbert and Kaepernick perform in the same preseason game. It appears that we'll finally have that opportunity on Friday. Regardless of who starts, performing well against the Packers defense could be a crucial determining factor in who wins the starting job for Week 1. Only adding to the anticipation, Kelly said on Wednesday that they won't determine playing time until Friday. We'll all find out the coaching staff's decision together.
@TaylorPrice: Davis and Garnett as starters
If this week's practice lineup is any indication of things to come, we're likely to see Davis and Garnett play the right and left guard spots with the first-team offense. It makes sense. The addition of Davis and Garnett to a Joe Staley-led o-line, gives San Francisco's a trio of first-round draft picks with the starting five. The 49ers lead the NFL in preseason rushing yards per game (210). Davis and Garnett are known for run-blocking. They could very well help Pierre Garçon produce some big-time numbers against the Packers.
3rd Down: Who will be this week's Marcus Rush (unsung hero)?
@Joe_Fann: Marcus CromartieI'm going to play the odds and bet that the player who sees the field the most will be the one to make a play. Nobody played more snaps than Cromartie against the Denver Broncos (53). That extended playing time can be attributed to Cromartie's cross-training at cornerback and safety. I'll save the bold prediction for "4th down," but a second-half takeaway for the third-year defensive back doesn't feel out of the question.
@TaylorPrice: Keith Reaser
Defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil said the young cornerback is "coming on" strong as the preseason continues. We saw Reaser break up two end-zone passes last week in Denver. He's embracing the competitive aspects of camp, and so that makes me think Reaser will find more ways to distinguish himself against the Packers. If Green Bay's signal-callers throw at No. 27, Reaser has the closing speed to break up passes and pick them off. If Rush is not able to get a hat-trick of sacks this week, look for Reaser to be the unsung hero.
4th Down: What is your bold prediction?
@Joe_Fann: Torrey Smith scores a long touchdownI think this is the week Smith takes the top off of the defense. Along the same logic as my Cromartie prediciton, I'm guessing the 49ers top wideout will see added playing time on Friday to make sure he gets reps with Gabbert and Kaepernick. A 50-plus-yard touchdown is on the horizon for Smith.
@TaylorPrice: John Lunsford will make a game-winning field goal
Thanks to Eric Reid, I'm 1-for-2 on bold predictions. The key here is to be bold. So in the true spirit of thinking outside the box, the undrafted rookie kicker out of Liberty will get a chance to win Friday's matchup with the Packers. Phil Dawson is money. We know this. The 18-year veteran has made all of his kicks this preseason. So when the game is on the line, I'm going to guess that the 49ers let the unproven rookie get a shot at putting some valuable game tape out there for 31 other teams. Lunsford will split the uprights. Let's say from 44 yards out. Everyone goes home happy. Now will this play out? Your guess is as good as mine. But it was fun explaining myself!