The San Francisco 49ers have a quick turnaround before hosting the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday night in what will be the preseason finale. Kyle Shanahan spoke with reporters on Tuesday to provide a few quick updates prior to the game. Here's what you need to know.
News on the Injury Front
George Kittle (shoulder) returned to practice on a very limited basis. He worked through individual drills and caught some passes standing still, but he didn't run any routes. Shanahan seemed confident that the tight end is progressing as expected from the injury he suffered in the preseason opener.
Reuben Foster (concussion) is still in the league's protocol. Should he make it through by Thursday, Shanahan expects Foster to play against the Chargers. If not, we won't see the linebacker until Week 3 against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Right Guard Still Too Close to Call
Joshua Garnett was impressive last Saturday in Indianapolis. Mike Person started but Garnett still played 27 snaps, most of which came with the first-team offense.
"Josh definitely helped himself out last week," Shanahan said. "I'm glad we've got another game to watch him."
Despite Garnett's return to full health and strong play of late, Shanahan still classified the right guard competition as Person's "job to lose."
"Josh could beat him out, but Person has been the most consistent since Day 1," Shanahan said. "He's had a real good camp, and we'll see what happens these last few days."
Who's behind Tartt?
One of the remaining unknowns on the roster is in regards to the backup strong safety behind Jaquiski Tartt. Chanceller James was one option, but he was waived earlier on Tuesday. Tyvis Powell has emerged as a strong candidate. The defensive back spent most of his offseason at corner but is seeing increased reps at strong safety. He played a majority (if not all) of his 30 reps against the Colts at that position.
"He showed it wasn't too big for him," Shanahan said of Powell. "He did a good job, and he should get some more reps in this game, also."
Marcell Harris (hamstring) is another player in contention for the role. Harris was playing well before being injured during the joint practices in Houston. His candidacy will be determined by his health and how long he's expected to be out.
As is the case every year, final roster spots are often determined by special teams contributions. Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch have to figure out which 46 players are projected to be active on gamedays while constructing the 53-man roster. This year's decisions are set up to be far more challenging than roster cuts were last season. Shanahan said that several spots are still "up in the air."
"Usually there are a lot of people at each position who you've been waiting to move on from because the writing had been on the wall for a while," Shanahan said. "It's not like that here. We're going to cut a lot of guys who are NFL players."
Jimmy Garoppolo and several other starters (Shanahan didn't share a full list) won't play on Thursday. That means C.J. Beathard will start, and Nick Mullens should see his share of playing time as well. In addition, Shanahan hopes to get fourth-string QB Jack Heneghan a few snaps.
"He's earned it," the coach said. "I expect to get him in."
Any starter who does play (ie. Solomon Thomas or Arik Armstead), won't play much. It's a difficult balance between getting players reps and keeping them healthy for Week 1. At this juncture, the priority is likely to lean towards the latter.