One of the most intriguing parts of the preseason are the position battles. These will determine who will be the starters by the start of the regular season.
These areas are where the team needs an answer for. Or because the talent at one position is so high that they need time to decide.
Backup QB: Barkley vs. Beathard
Going into training camp, everyone assumed that Hoyer would be the starter. This has not changed and won’t change anytime soon.
Now, however, there’s a bit of some controversy over the backup position. The veteran journeyman, Matt Barkley is going to need to stave off the rookie, CJ Beathard from his backup role.
Barkley is underperforming in a terrible manner in camp. Beathard, on the other hand, has been impressing the coaching staff. This battle will be an important one to watch, especially down the line later in the season.
Slot Receiver: Taylor vs. Kerley
Experts that touted that Trent Taylor was a late-round steal weren’t lying. He’s been impressing so much that people expect him to be a major piece in Shanahan’s system.
But don’t rule out the veteran, Jeremy Kerley. No one can deny his production last season in an abysmal 49ers passing attack. He led the team in both receptions and receiving yards, and is one of the lone returning players from 2016.
Expect this one to be the most exciting one to watch during training camp.
Defensive End: Thomas vs. Carradine
The unofficial depth chart has Tank Carradine penciled in as the starting defensive end over the third overall pick, Solomon Thomas. This is more due to Thomas’ absence because of league rules to keep rookies in school until their semester is over.
The Stanford product should be able to jump his way into the starting role by the time the season begins. However, don’t omit the former Seminole, Tank.
LEO position: Armstead vs. Dumervil vs. Lynch
This position battle is arguably the hardest one to gauge. Mostly because of the talent in this competition.
Armstead is currently listed as the starter at this unique position. He has the size and athleticism to make this position work for him. However, he doesn’t have the low center of gravity that this area is looking for.
Dumervil has the most experience out of either of the other guys. He still has the explosiveness that’s led to the 99 career sacks that he’s obtained. But he’s coming off of a season-ending injury from last year so that jump might not be there for him.
Lynch is the furthest one behind. He came to training camp overweight and a little slower than before. Plus Lynch is coming off of an off-year for his standards. However, he’s changing his diet and is beginning to catch up.
Whoever ends up in third place will likely end up as a surprising cut on the roster.
Notable Omission: Right Cornerback (Johnson vs. Reaser)
This would’ve been on the list, but Johnson is currently out with a concussion.
Now Reaser can jump in and most likely take over with the unfortunate injury.