The 2022 NFL preseason for the 49ers has been a good one so far. Can the 49ers close out a perfect preseason with a win in Houston?
The preseason for the 49ers has shown a lot of promise. It has also shown some things to work on. Just like anything in life, nothing is perfect. However, the 49ers have a chance to finish with a rare perfect preseason record against the Texans in the final dress rehearsal before the Week One season opener against the Chicago Bears.
With the removal of the fourth preseason game, the third game is the final chance for players to solidify a starting spot and for players on the roster bubble to prove why they should occupy one of the coveted fifty-three spots on the final roster. The 49ers last played the Texans last year in Week 17 and with new coaching staff, the Texans look for revenge.
Here are a few things to watch, look at, and who to look forward to playing on Thursday.
What To Watch From The 49ers Offense In Game Three
The 49ers intend to play Trey Lance and most of their starters in Houston. On Tuesday, Kyle Shanahan said the plan was for them to play the first half.
However, one projected starter on the offensive line won’t be playing. Right tackle, Mike McGlinchey is out due to a knee issue that has plagued the much-maligned first-round pick out of Notre Dame this preseason. In his place will start second-year player Colin McKivitz, who looks to win the backup swing tackle spot.
Another starter on the offensive line, who I’d be shocked in seeing would be left tackle Trent Williams. Williams, who hasn’t played this preseason, has no reason to play. The nine-time pro bowler will for certain be out there in week one in Chicago. Look for Justin Skule to start in his place.
Skill players such as wide receivers Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk haven’t played so far in preseason. Neither has tight end George Kittle or running back Jeff Wilson Jr. It will be determined later in the week if any of those players play Thursday. If they do, expect quick cameos for the quartet.
After not playing last week in Minnesota, Lance will go against the Texans. The big thing to watch is the backup QB spot. Nate Sudfeld and Brock Purdy are in a battle. Both have shown truly exemplary things this preseason and it will be interesting to see what path the 49ers end up reaching.
What To Watch From The 49ers Defense In Preseason Week Three
Even without Nick Bosa, the 49ers’ defense line has been as good as publicized this preseason. Rookie Drake Jackson is having a great preseason. He has illustrated why the 49ers may have found the steal of the 2022 NFL draft.
Javon Kinlaw is finally healthy for the first time since his rookie season. Having slimmed down to about 290 pounds, Kinlaw looks explosive and is blowing up the middle of the opposing offensive line repeatedly. With a sack added in the game against the Vikings last Saturday, Kinlaw is another youthful prospect for Kris Kocurek to work with.
49ers Javon Kinlaw just ATE this Vikings OLineman pic.twitter.com/FJU6K8C6rv — Brad (@Graham_SFN) August 17, 2022
The linebacking core for the 49ers has been a strength for years. Armed with quite possibly the best trio of starters in the league — Azeez Al-Shaair, Fred Warner, and Dre Greenlaw — the 49ers are fast and talented. None have played a snap this preseason and it still hasn’t been determined if they will play Thursday in Houston. If they don’t play, look for Oren Burks, Demetrius Flanagan Fowles, and others to make a case to be backups when the season starts.
The secondary for the 49ers has performed well. Even without starters Emmanuel Moseley, Charvarious Ward, and Jimmie Ward the 49ers look to be in fine shape depth-wise this season. Adding in youthful players Samuel Womack, Deommodore Lenoir, Ambry Thomas, and Qwuantrezz Knight with veterans Dontae Johnson and Jason Verrett looks to turn the secondary from a weakness at times last year into one of the strengths.
Key 49ers Players To Watch In Preseason Game Three
Before training camp the running back rotation looked to be set – starter Elijah Mitchell, backup options – Jeff Wilson Jr, Tyrion Davis Price, and Trey Sermon. However, the undrafted rookie running back out of Georgia Tech has exploded onto the scene and has thrown his hat into the ring.
Mason is the type of runner Kyle Shanahan looks for — hard-nosed, tough, and willing to run over people. He has a decent burst and excellent decision-making. This preseason he has been a revelation. According to “Pro Football Focus”, Mason ranks as the highest graded running back in the NFL with a 93.3 grade.
He has his final chance to convince Kyle Shanahan to put him on the fifty-three-man roster this Thursday. With Trey Sermon floundering again this preseason, Mason went from camp body to a player who could force the 49ers to make a tough decision. No matter what happens, Mason has a future in the league.
Expect a lot of Oren Burks. Signed this past offseason to a two-year deal from the Green Bay Packers, Burks was brought in for his ability on special teams. However, with Fred Warner, Dre Greenlaw, and Azeez Al-Shaair not suiting up yet this preseason, Burks has been forced into action.
Burks has impressed as a linebacker and looks to be the fourth LB on the depth chart. In the preseason, Burks has notched the fourth most total tackles in the NFL (16). Burks has proven that if he has to play due to an injury to the big three – the 49ers would have a quality player at the position to fill in.
In one of the more insane stories coming out of 49ers camp this offseason, Jason Poe might win the starting left guard spot. I’m fascinated by this player. Listed at six-foot-one, Poe is the unlikeliest of stories. An undrafted guard out of little-known Mercer, Poe is one of the more athletic offensive linemen the 49ers have.
Jason Poe C,OG/FB Mercer University 6’1”, 300Lbs 34 bench (92nd percentile) 4.89 40 (99th) 1.72 10 (90th) 31.5 vertical (89th) 9’3” broad (92nd) @JustinM_NFL @PFF_College @CGSAllStar @RiseNDraft @McShay13 pic.twitter.com/zT2dNiJID6 — Jason Poe 👑 (@jpoe_) April 14, 2022
Quick, fast, hard-nosed, and smart, he’s the type of player Kyle Shanahan targets. In the preseason, he’s exhibited incredible skills both as a run blocker and pass blocker. His most promising play came in the Vikings game. Watch the pulling guard take on a defensive end and crush him.
49ers Jason Poe is a great puller pic.twitter.com/LNZwg92UUV — Brad (@Graham_SFN) August 21, 2022
The only thing for Poe is consistency. If he keeps improving, the 49ers have an exceptional player to work with. It will be fascinating to see who starts at left guard against the Texans. I’m not counting out Poe.