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Red and Gold Report – Packers at 49ers Preview

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The third exhibition game is usually considered the "dry run" before the regular season and gives coaches and players somewhat of a barometer as to where things stand. The starters will play more than in previous weeks, but make no mistake, this game is still much more about getting the roster figured out.

Here are the key items to know for today's match-up against the Green Bay Packers.

10. When and Where?

Friday August 26, 2016 at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, CA at 7:00 PM PT

9. Players to watch - Defensive Line

This will be the first game where the last two 1st Round draft picks, defensive ends Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner, also known as "The Twin Towers", will play and show what they can do. Both are 6'7 and 290 lbs and face a test against offensive tackles Bryan Bulaga, David Bakhtiari, and rookie Jason Spriggs.

The defensive line should be much improved in 2016 and it will be good to face one of the deeper lines in the NFL tonight, as well as Aaron Rodgers.

8. Players to watch - Gerald Hodges - Inside Linebacker

It wasn't long ago that the 49ers boasted of the best pair of inside linebackers in the NFL, NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis. Now that Willis and 2014 draft pick Chris Borland are retired, San Francisco has been looking for the next great linebacker to complement NaVorro Bowman. Hodges, acquired via trade from Minnesota, looks poised to claim the starting spot and faces a good running back tandem in Eddie Lacy and James Starks.

His biggest competition at this point are Michael Wilhoite and Ray-Ray Armstrong. Armstrong is making a strong case with his effective pass coverage skills.

7. Who will emerge at Wide Receiver?

Torrey Smith is the split end and it's likely that Bruce Ellington will be the primary slot receiver. The big question mark is who rises up and takes over the flanker position?

The leading candidates are Dres Anderson, Quinton Patton, 2016 Draft Pick Aaron Burbridge, Jerome Simpson, and DeAndre Smelter. Burbridge hasn't been very active but the most unfortunate situation is that of Smelter. He was poised to show what he can do in preseason, but an injury has kept him off the field. It is unknown whether or not he plays tonight.

Patton and Anderson have made the most contributions, most notably Anderson's 30 yard game-winning touchdown last week against Denver. Patton is the favorite, but Anderson has at least real good chance to make the roster.

The Packers have one of the better and deeper secondaries in the NFL making tonight's game very important for the young 49ers receivers.

6. Will Marcus Rush make the team?

Rush is leader in quarterback pressures from a 3-4 outside linebacker this preseason and given Aaron Lynch's four-game suspension, he has a fantastic chance to make the team, but needs to show more tonight.

Tank Carradine is also fighting for a roster spot and is second in the NFL in the same category as Rush. Both had sacks last week and against Green Bay's offensive line, they would each have a chance to show they can produce against quality competition.

5. Will the 49ers avoid putting the ball on the ground?

Mike Davis and DuJuan Harris have both shown that they're ready to be called upon to provide relief to Carlos Hyde in the ground game. Davis had a fantastic game against Houston a couple of weeks ago, but coughed up the ball twice last week.

Expect aggressive play from Green Bay's young inside linebackers Sam Barrington, Jake Ryan and the emerging Blake Martinez, who are all fighting for either a roster spot or a starting role.

4. Who will be the primary Nickel Cornerback?

Tremaine Brock and Jimmie Ward are all but locks to be the starters on the outside, but the Nickel position is still up for grabs.

Jimmie Ward is poised to start in 2016

Jimmie Ward is poised to start in 2016

Dontae Johnson, who had a good 2014 rookie season, is on the bubble, but he may have the inside track due to his good size. Keith Reaser has improved over last year and rookies Rashard Robinson and Chris Davis are also having very good camps and preseasons.

The good news is, the 49ers are loaded with talent in the secondary, more so than the last two seasons. The bad news: there are only so many roster spots.

Tonight will be a great test as the Packers are full of good receivers in Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, DaVante Adams, and also rookie Geronimo Allison. If one of the corners can pull off a great game tonight, it could go a long way into securing a roster spot.

3. Is Vance McDonald finally coming into his own?

To say Vance McDonald has had a rough three seasons up to this point would be an understatement. McDonald has had consistent bouts of drops, fumbles and difficulties getting open, but this preseason has been different. He is the leading 49ers receiver and looks much more like the player that Trent Baalke moved up eight spots for in the 2013 Draft.

The Packers have plenty of capable players that can cover the tight end, so we'll see how well he does tonight.

2. How much time will Blaine Gabbert see tonight?

With the return of Colin Kaepernick and how well Christian Ponder played last week, it is unlikely Gabbert plays for more than a series or two.

Tonight is all about seeing what Kaepernick can do and the 49ers also want to get rookie Jeff Driskel some reps.

1. How effective will Colin Kaepernick be tonight?

Kaepernick is back and all eyes will be on him as he tries to make the case that he can still lead this team. He will have to show that his arm is now healthy and a couple sizable scrambles would go a long way to showing the coaches that he fits into Chip Kelly's system.

The offensive line should be able to protect him as this unit is much improved with surprising move of shifting Anthony Davis to right guard.

If Kaepernick plays well, it will be anyone's guess as to who the opening day starter will be. If not, he could end up on the PUP list as the 49ers could then keep Ponder on the roster and use six weeks to evaluate Gabbert.

 

 

Check out Niners Nation's interview with Tex at Acme Packing Company on what the Packers will be looking to do against the 49ers tonight. (both Niners Nation and Acme Packing Company are each team's web site in the SB Nation network)

Updated Depth Chart is HERE

The Red and Gold Report – 49ers/Broncos Recap

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Broncos Recap and Notes for the Week

If you watched San Francisco's 31-24 victory over the Denver Broncos this past Saturday, then you have to be encouraged a little about how things are progressing. While there were a few items of concern, Saturday was an overall positive. Here are Game Two's "Good, Correctable, and Concerning" :

The Good

The quarterback competition got a little more interesting as Christian Ponder got into the mix. Blaine Gabbert was 6 for 9 and tallied 69 yards, but was replaced by Jeff Driskel and then Ponder, who scored on a 22 yard zone-read keeper and then later threw a 30 yard touchdown to receiver Dres Anderson.

Ponder looked very comfortable in the offense, going 7 for 8 for 86 yards and a touchdown. Colin Kaepernick will be back for Friday's game against the Packers, but the competition doesn't appear to be won by Gabbert at this point.

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Christian Ponder on a zone-read

Vance McDonald continues to make strides as he again led the team in receptions and now has five for 92 yards and a score. Continue reading

The Red and Gold Report – 49ers/Texans Recap

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The Red and Gold Report - 49ers vs Texans Recap

Today's podcast covers our review of the 49ers/Texans game as we break down "The Good, The Correctable and The Concerning" facets of Sunday night's preseason game.

Some notable items that stood out were the play of the offensive line, especially Joshua Garnett and Andrew Tiller who did not allow a quarterback pressure, the defense that did not allow a point in the first half, and the resurgence of running back Mike Davis.

Be sure to give the show a listen and check out the end where Dexter talked about his experience at the Hall of Fame and at Eddie Debartolo's induction party!

Click HERE to listen to the podcast!

Red and Gold Report – 49ers Preseason Preview

The 49ers host the Texans tonight (photo credit: news.lalate.com)

The 49ers host the Texans tonight (photo credit: news.lalate.com)

Red and Gold Report- 49ers Preseason Preview

By: Matt Andruscavage

The wait is over! 49ers football is back and tonight's game features the Houston Texans.

This will be the debut of new 49ers Head Coach Chip Kelly as well as the many new faces of the team.

Here are 10 Things to Watch and Know about tonight's matchup:

10) When and Where?

The game will start at 4pm PT and will be at Levi's Stadium.

9) What does the 49ers' Depth Chart look like at this point?

Here is the unofficial depth chart straight from 49ers.com - Depth Chart

The most notable items on it are first, there is no official Quarterback, but due to arm soreness, Blaine Gabbert will start in tonight's game. Secondly, Trent Brown is listed as the Right Tackle, but most expect Anthony Davis to retake that spot.

And finally, the inside linebacker spot opposite NaVorro Bowman is still up for grabs. There is a three-way tie between Ray-Ray Armstrong, Gerald Hodges, and Michael Wilhoite.

8) Players to watch - Ronald Blair, Tank Carradine and Corey Lemonier

49ers fans are hoping that this is the year Tank Carradine emerges, especially with Aaron Lynch missing the first 4 games. Carradine has been moved to outside linebacker and it seems to be a much better fit for him. Matt Maiocco reported that Tank had his best day in camp this past Tuesday as he recorded two would-be sacks and just looks way better at his new position.

Ronald Blair has also been turning heads in camp and figures to be a part of the rotation on the defensive line this season. He should see a lot of playing time tonight.

And lastly, this preseason is probably Corey Lemonier's last chance to impress as he is likely on the bubble to make the roster. Hopefully, he can make it and show the fans why he was drafted high in 2013.

7) Players to watch - DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead

The potential for this Oregon duo is limitless and it will be fun to watch the "Twin Towers" in action this preseason. They both fought through injuries during camp, but should be ready to go tonight.

DeForest Buckner works in camp (photo credit: ninersnation.com)

DeForest Buckner works in camp (photo credit: ninersnation.com)

6) Players to watch - Mike Davis, DuJuan Harris, and Kelvin Taylor

The backup running back spot is still up in the air, but the preseason should feature Davis, Harris, Taylor, and also last year's pickup Shaun Draughn. All should see action and the roster picture should be a little clearer after tonight.

5) Players to watch - Zane Beadles, Anthony Davis, Trent Brown, and Joshua Garnett

While there are other players to watch like John Theus and Fahn Cooper, the Right Tackle, Right Guard and Left Guard positions are going to get a lot attention. Anthony Davis will likely be starting in Week 1 against the Rams, but keep on eye on Trent Brown.

An interesting thing happened on Tuesday as Joshua Garnett was moved to Left Guard in place of Zane Beadles and Andrew Tiller is still in play for the Right Guard position. It's unclear as to whether or not that move means anything, but we'll know a little more tonight.

4) Players to watch - The Cornerbacks

The 49ers seem to have a load of corners who are competing for four or five positions.

At this point, Jimmy Ward and Tremaine Brock are penciled in as the starters, but there are lots of possibilities.

Keith Reaser and Rashard Robinson have made a lot of noise in camp and it will also be interesting to see where Dontae Johnson, Kenneth Acker and Will Redmond fit in.

I'm most interested in Redmond as he could be the steal of the 2016 49ers draft.

3) The Obvious - Expect a vanilla offense

I think most fans have their expectations tempered for preseason outcomes, but just in case, don't expect elaborate schemes from Chip Kelly in these games.

It will be a basic offense and defense designed to allow the coaches to evaluate players. We might see a little more on August 26th when the Packers come to town, as the third game is typically when the starters play the most.

2) Players to watch - The Wide Receivers

Torrey Smith is the number two receiver. That's about all that is sure at this point. Bruce Ellington is the favorite at slot receiver, given his abilities seem to fit what Chip Kelly looks for at receiver, but watch undrafted rookie Bryce Treggs, who has been impressive.

Last year's redshirt pick DeAndre Smelter is healthy and has a chance to win a starting position, but has been outplayed by Quinton Patton. The preseason will give us a much better idea of where Smelter may fit in, but it may also be Patton's last chance to make an impact.

Jerome Simpson, DiAndre Campbell, Dres Anderson, Aaron Burbridge and DeAndrew White will also see action tonight.

1) Players to watch - the Quarterback battle

Blaine Gabbert is set to start and it is unclear how much playing time Colin Kaepernick will get, but until a Week 1 starter is named, nothing is certain.

Gabbert is the early favorite, but a lot can change in four weeks.

No matter who you're personally pulling for, I think all 49ers fans can agree that both players playing at a good or high level is needed for this team to be competitive this year and it will be interesting to see how both fit into Coach Kelly's scheme.

 

Follow me on Twitter @mtascavage

 

“FAMILY” – A Debartolo Legacy

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We celebrate our 10 year Anniversary and continue to devote ourselves to the 49er fan base as one "Family". Eddie Debartolo spoke at the Hall of Fame and every fan felt why we are who we are.

Win, lose or draw, THE NINER EMPIRE ORGANIZATION goal is for the family legacy to continue for generations to come.

Represent with Class

- GO NINERS!!!