SANTA CLARA -- Guard Jonathan Cooper was the No. 7 overall pick of the Arizona Cardinals in 2013. He has bounced around to five teams in his six NFL seasons.

After playing well in 13 starts last season with the Dallas Cowboys, the last thing Cooper envisioned when he signed a one-year contract with the 49ers in March was to play all four quaters in the team’s final preseason game.

While nearly all of the established veterans – and some of the young guys – merely watched from the sideline, Cooper remained on the field, playing with and against players at the bottom ends of the 49ers' and Los Angeles Chargers' rosters.

Cooper played a game-high 60 snaps at left guard on Thursday in the 49ers’ 23-21 loss to the Chargers at Levi’s Stadium. Afterward, he was not complaining.

“I wasn’t able to participate in OTAs and I missed the first (preseason) game, so it only made sense to get more reps under my belt as well as to show I can do it,” Cooper said.

Cooper, 28, said he is still rounding into form after requiring offseason surgery on his left knee after sustaining the injury in the final game of last season. He said he feels he is getting better as he continues to “knock off the rust.”

“I think I’m continuing to improve and when I feel like I’m that player that I was, that’s when I’ll feel like I can really help this team,” Cooper said. “Right now, I feel like I can do well, but I feel like I can be better. I can definitely be better.”


Cooper’s spot on the 49ers is tenuous, as the team must reduce its roster from 88 players to the regular-season limit of 53 before the NFL-imposed deadline of Saturday, 1 p.m.

When asked about why Cooper played all but two of the team’s offensive snaps, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said the 49ers wanted to get a longer look at Cooper before making a decision.

“Just giving him a chance because he hasn’t been able to go as long as everyone else and we wanted to make sure he could stay out there longer tonight and see how he reacted and make sure we have a lot of tape to watch of him when we get back in,” Shanahan said.

Cooper is not in the picture to compete with Mike Person and Joshua Garnett for the starting job at right guard. Second-year player Erik Magnuson appears to be closer to returning to the field after sustaining a hamstring injury two weeks ago. Magnuson is likely to also make the 53-man roster as a backup interior offensive lineman.

That leaves Cooper with an uncertain future.

“Tomorrow can worry about itself,” Cooper said. “All I can do is perform to the best of my ability and do what’s asked of me, and leave the game healthy and look in the mirror and say, ‘I gave it my best.’ Regardless of what it looks like, I’m still just grateful for the opportunity and that I can physically do it.

“I’ve enjoyed being here with this organization. Of course, I want to be here. But I’m at peace, I guess.”

Offensive Snap Count

The 49ers’ offense was on the field for 62 plays on Thursday in the exhibition finale against the Chargers. Here is how the playing time broke down for everyone who saw snaps on offense:
Quarterback – Nick Mullens 38, Jack Heneghan 21, C.J. Beathard 3.
Running back – Jeff Wilson 25, Raheem Mostert 19, Jeremy McNichols 16, Malcolm Johnson 7, Alfred Morris 2.
Wide receiver – Steven Dunbar 51, Victor Bolden 38, Aldrick Robinson 33, Richie James 27, Kendrick Bourne 11, Trent Taylor 6.
Tight end -- Ross Dwelley 38, Cole Hikutini 32, Cole Wick 5.
Offensive line – Jonathan Cooper 60, Darrell Williams 46, Najee Toran 39, Andrew Lauderdale 39, JP Flynn 39, Pace Murphy 39, Joshua Garnett 23, Coleman Shelton 23, Chris Gonzalez 2.

Defensive Snap Count

The 49ers’ defense was also on the field for 54 snaps. Here’s a look at how much each 49ers defender played:
Defensive line – Jullian Taylor 37, Will Sutton 34, Niles Scott 29, Chris Jones 24, Ronald Blair 23, D.J. Jones 18, Sheldon Day 16, Solomon Thomas 8
Linebacker – Pita Taumoepenu 38, Elijah Lee 35, Brock Coyle 34, Korey Toomer 21, Reuben Foster 19, Dekoda Watson 9
Defensive back – Antone Exum 54, Emmanuel Moseley 45, Tyvis Powell 43, Greg Mabin 33, Tarvarius Moore 33, Dexter McCoil 21, Tarvarus McFadden 20