Front-line 49ers players will play very little Thursday night in the team’s final exhibition game.
Yet there are jobs on the line. The coaching staff still has decisions to make at several positions, including right guard, cornerback and safety, tight end and on the defensive line.
Also at wide receiver, where the 49ers have a logjam of candidates. Players such as Pierre Garcon, Marquise Goodwin, Trent Taylor and second-round pick Dante Pettis appear to be locks for the 53-man roster. That means a group – rookie Richie James, Aaron Burbridge, Kendrick Bourne and Aldrick Robinson – will be fighting for two available spots (if the team carries six wide receivers).
So Thursday in the game against the Chargers at Levi’s Stadium, look for those players to try to make an impact while catching throws from backup QBs C.J. Beathard and Nick Mullens (with Jimmy Garoppolo already ruled out).
There are arguments for each, though Chris Biderman of the Sacramento Bee believes James could be in the lead for one spot.
“(James) has impressed,” Biderman wrote this week. “He made the game-winning touchdown catch in the exhibition opener and has special-teams value as a returner.”
Cam Inman, who covers the 49ers for the Bay Area News Group, rates the veteran Robinson as a favorite for the other spot.
“Kendrick Bourne’s inconsistency trumps his potential, and it could allow Aldrick Robinson to return as basically Goodwin’s backup, while Pettis is Garcon’s understudy and James is Taylor’s,” Inman wrote.
Robinson has a long history with Shanahan, which also could help. He worked with Shanahan in both Atlanta and Washington when Shanahan was offensive coordinator with those teams.
Robinson, 29, caught 19 passes with the 49ers last season for 260 yards and two touchdowns.
Thursday’s exhibition final is set for a 7 p.m. kickoff at Levi’s Stadium.