3 49ers Fighting for Their Jobs in Sunday's Preseason Game

Three San Francisco 49ers who are fighting for their jobs in Sunday's preseason game against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Three San Francisco 49ers who are fighting for their jobs in Sunday's preseason game against the Los Angeles Chargers. / Michael Zagaris/Getty Images

After cutting down their roster to 85 players earlier this week, the San Francisco 49ers are turning their attention to a preseason clash with the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday. The 49ers are coming off of last week's close 19-16 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, so they'll be looking to bounce back on Sunday.

Ideally, a victory would be nice for the sake of momentum, but San Francisco's game against Los Angeles is significant for different reasons. Like the rest of the league, the 49ers have to cut their roster down to 80 by Tuesday, which means that Sunday's game could be the last chance for players to prove their worth. While some players already have their spot on the 53-man roster locked down, that isn't the case for everyone.

Here's a look at three 49ers who are fighting for their jobs in Sunday's preseason game.

San Francisco 49ers Players to Watch

1. Richie James Jr., Wide Receiver

Richie James Jr. is now entering his fourth year in San Francisco, but his role is far from safe. He's seen extended return work with the 49ers since entering the league in 2018, though the results have been nothing that guarantee his spot on the roster ahead of the regular season. James has 1,081 career kickoff return yards and a touchdown to his name, along with 373 punt return yards over three years of his play. Turnovers have been a serious issue, with James racking up 5 fumbles in three seasons. He's also struggled with drops when featured in the passing game, and that makes it hard to rationalize keeping a player whose ball security is a serious liability. Nsimba Webster is proving to be a real threat in the return game, and San Fran may finally cut James loose if he doesn't show real flashes on Sunday.

2. Jonas Griffith, Linebacker

A former 2020 undrafted free agent, linebacker Jonas Griffith has been making a name for himself during the 49ers' training camp. After a slew of impressive practices, Griffith finished last week's game against the Chiefs with a tackle and three assists, which certainly helped his case on the road to earning a roster spot. Nevertheless, the 49ers are solid at the middle linebacker position as Fred Warner was named first-team All-Pro last year while backup MLB Dre Greenlaw is no slouch either. That means that Griffith needs his best showing to date on Sunday if he wants to force San Francisco's hand in award him a 53-man roster spot.

3. Jordan Matthews, Tight End

It goes without saying that George Kittle is San Francisco's No. 1 tight end, but the order after that on the depth chart remains to be determined. Former Philadelphia Eagles WR Jordan Matthews was brought in by the 49ers to be a tight end after gaining 20 pounds over the offseason. He had a modest showing in last week's preseason contest, catching one of his two targets for 16 yards. With veteran MyCole Pruitt still being injured, Sunday's game offers Matthews a terrific chance to prove why he deserves to be the 49ers' third-string TE. If he doesn't put up a solid performance, he may have to begin looking for a new team as early as this week.

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