Five offensive 49ers players to watch vs Falcons
Five offensive 49ers to watch
The offense-challenged San Francisco 49ers will face the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday with only six positions manned by regular starters on Sunday at the Georgia Dome.
Wide receiver Torrey Smith and left tackle Joe Staley are out. Center Daniel Kilgore and tight end Vance McDonald went on injured reserve this week. And left guard Zane Beadles moves to left tackle to fill in for Staley.
The 49ers enter the game with the NFL’s fourth-ranked running game, while no team has passed for fewer yards this season. The 49ers’ offense might be difficult to watch, but here’s a rundown of five 49ers players on offense are worth keeping an eye on...
5) LT Zane Beadles
Joe Staley, who has a streak of five consecutive Pro Bowl appearances, will miss his second straight game with a hamstring injury. Beadles will make the second start at left tackle of his seven-year career. (Start No. 1 at left tackle was last week.) Beadles was the only veteran starter 49ers general manager Trent Baalke added in free agency. Beadles played solid football, but he’ll face a huge challenge on Sunday, going up against Atlanta pass-rushers Dwight Freeney and Vic Beasley.
4) WR Quinton Patton
Patton is trying to make his case for a contract next season. He is nearing the end of his original four-year contract and will be scheduled for unrestricted free agency at the conclusion of the season. Patton has achieved career-highs with 35 catches for 405 yards this season. There figure to be some notable changes with the passing game next season. Has he shown enough to warrant a return to the team? Could Patton be more productive in a reduced role with new emphasis on the passing game?
3) RG Joshua Garnett
When Baalke made the trade to get back into the first round to select Garnett, it raised some eyebrows. Garnett has not played like a first-round pick, but most rookie linemen experience their share of ups-and-downs. Garnett and right tackle Trent Brown are the only 49ers linemen who are playing in their regular positions. More should be expected from them in these final games, and the 49ers should look to run behind this offensive line.
2) RB Carlos Hyde
Despite running behind a shuffled offensive line, Hyde had his best career-game with 193 yards. It was the sixth-best day by a 49ers runner in franchise history – though his last carry was the failed fourth-and-2 play in overtime. Hyde is closing in on 1,000 yards. He needs just 121 yards in the final three games. There’s little doubt the Falcons will stack the box and make it extremely difficult for Hyde to find any running room. Regardless, Hyde has shown that he will be counted upon to be a big factor in the future of the 49ers’ offense.
1) QB Colin Kaepernick
Kaepernick deserves credit for looking into the possibility of furthering his education. CSNBayArea.com learned this week that he took his GRE test for graduate school admission on his day off. “Just exploring all opportunities,” Kaepernick explained. Kaepernick is expected to opt out of his contract at season’s end. If he does not opt out, the 49ers are expected to release him to avoid paying his scheduled $14.9 millio salary. Kaepernick has three games to end the season strong and provide a final argument to set his market value for NFL free agency.