3 San Francisco 49ers to Watch in NFL Preseason Week 1

Three San Francisco 49ers players to watch in their preseason matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Three San Francisco 49ers players to watch in their preseason matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs. / Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

A season marred with injuries forced the San Francisco 49ers to go from Super Bowl contenders in 2019 to last place in the NFC West division last year. However, with a healthier lineup ready to go, the 49ers will be trying to bounce back and become one of the top teams in the league once again.

The first step towards the goal will be a preseason clash against the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday. The matchup will serve as a way for the 49ers to see how their team is shaping up, as well as giving some fringe players a shot at stealing a roster spot.

Here's a look at three 49ers players to watch in Week 1 of the 2021 NFL preseason.

San Francisco 49ers Players to Watch

1. Trey Lance, Quarterback

After Trey Lance was selected third overall at the 2021 NFL Draft, it was expected that he would begin the season as Jimmy Garoppolo's backup before seeing any action. Well, things have changed as Lance has been receiving high praise throughout training camp and has seemingly outplayed his veteran counterpart. 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan has said that Lance will play most of the first half against the Chiefs, which should give everyone a good idea as to whether his training camp performances can translate to an actual game.

2. Ambry Thomas, Cornerback

While the 49ers have one of the top defenses in the NFL when they're at the top of their game, the cornerback depth leaves a lot to be desired. Due to that, 2021 third-round draft pick Ambry Thomas has a decent shot at making the 53-man roster. The rookie CB opted out of the 2020 college football season, however, he proved his potential in the previous campaign. Thomas played 12 games for the Michigan Wolverines in 2019, ending the year with 38 total tackles, 3 passes defended and 3 interceptions. Opposing quarterbacks had a 56.3 passer rating when targeting the man that Thomas was on, which proves that he could be just the type of player that San Francisco could use.

3. Trey Sermon, Running Back

Raheem Mostert will open the season as the 49ers lead running back, however, his inconsistent play could open the door for rookie Trey Sermon to see more touches. The 49ers coaching staff has had nothing but good things to say about the 22-year-old and his pass-catching ability could help him become an important part of San Francisco's offense. The Chiefs defense allowed 123.2 rushing yards per game in 2020 (T-19th), which bodes well for Sermon on Saturday even if he sees a limited amount of touches. Depending on how he performs against Kansas City, he could take a large step toward stealing even more touches from Mostert.

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