San Francisco 49ers' Complete 2012 NFL Preseason & Training Camp Guide
The Niners are looking to grow, particularly on the offensive side of the football as they gear up for a title run.
There is a lot of information to keep track of, between the 90-plus names, unique story lines, position battles and players to watch.
This article will act as a complete guide and reference to the San Francisco 49ers offseason leading into Week 1.
The Biggest Question Marks
Is Alex Boone ready to be a starting offensive lineman for a team that's going after a Super Bowl?
Is rookie wide receiver A.J. Jenkins making strides?
What kind of rotation can we expect from the running back group?
If and when will Dashon Goldson show up for training camp?
Which UDFA is most likely to make the final 53-man squad?
How much better will San Francisco's offense be in 2012? (VIDEO)
What kind of impact can we expect from the time Alex Smith spent with Tom House?
Will receiver Kyle Williams rebound in 2012 and live up to his talent?
Will the San Francisco offense improve on third down and in the red zone? (VIDEO)
Players on the Roster Bubble
Anthony Dixon, RB
Reason: There has been a serious influx at the running back position, and it may spell the end to a brief career with the 49ers for Anthony Dixon. San Francisco does not need five-plus tailbacks, and right now there are four backs with an edge over him. Dixon has been a great team motivator and hype-man that also has special teams value.
I have little to no feelings right now,all about the hustle,work week is up! More of life's challenges incoming and I accept! :)— Anthony Dixon (@Boobie24Dixon) July 16, 2012
Brandon Jacobs, RB
Reason: Having signed a one-year deal with San Francisco, it seemed to be a win-right-now sort of decision to bring him aboard. A lot of fans don't believe in Jacobs, and are skeptical to think he will make the final roster. Working against Jacobs are age, adjusting to a new team and not offering anything on special teams.
Just got a great workout in at LA Fitness in L.A. I am focused this year I am getting it in where ever I am, I will have a great season.— Brandon Jacobs (@gatorboy45) July 12, 2012
Chris Owusu, WR
Reason: Owusu may or may not make the 49ers in 2012, but is the heavy favorite of the undrafted free agents to push more established players for time.
A former Stanford Cardinal, Owusu has that rapport with Jim Harbaugh and knowledge of the system, but moreover, he is a very talented receiver with the physical tools to be a pro. Unfortunately, Owusu is competing at one of the most loaded position groups the 49ers have and it would take an unorthodox move to retain him.
Definitely learned a lot this mini camp and look forward to getting better! #NinersNation— Chris Owusu (@Owusu81) May 14, 2012
Michael Thomas, S
Reason: Thomas is another sleeper UDFA that could sneak up on some people. Another ex-Cardinal, Thomas became familiar with Vic Fangio's way of doing things.
Fangio is hopeful that Thomas' strong play at Stanford would carry over into the NFL. If he doesn't do enough to crack the final roster, he is a sure-fire practice squad player. Until Dashon Goldson shows up, Thomas will be able to capitalize on reps he otherwise would not have had.
One week until we rookies report! Ready to work! #Niners— michael thomas (@mt3much4em) July 14, 2012
Ted Ginn Jr., WR/KR
Reason: A deep receiving corps will be a challenge for Ginn when the 49ers have to calculate his worth vs. a roster spot. Ginn's primary value comes in the return game, where he is a top-three return man in the NFL today.
However, San Francisco has guys with experience returning kicks that could significantly contribute in other phases of the game. The good news for Ginn is, the 49ers have a higher regard for special teams than most teams.
Brett Swain, WR
Reason: Swain re-signed a one-year deal with the Niners after the joining the team midseason in 2011. Coming from the Green Bay Packers, he understood the nuances of the west coast offense. However, Swain now finds himself outmatched talent-wise at a heavily loaded position group—it's unlikely that he is part of the final 53-man roster.
Giorgio Tavecchio, K
Reason: David Akers.
Nate Byham, TE
Reason: There have been no credible reports indicating Byham is in danger of losing his spot as the team's third tight end, but he is not without competition.
While San Francisco is set on their first two—Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker—they might want to experiment with that third spot by introducing some new blood. It is a new regime after all.
Tramaine Brock, CB
Reason: Tramaine Brock has had a strong beginning to this offseason, but so have others at his position.
San Francisco seems to be set on their starters, Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown, but have evolving depth with Chris Culliver and new addition Perrish Cox. Brock has an uphill battle ahead of him, but in a passing league he could make the team as the 49ers' last corner.
Scott Tolzien, QB
Reason: Jim Harbaugh went out and made a bold move by getting a strong, high-ceiling backup for his backup. Josh Johnson was signed by the 49ers—per Harbaugh's recommendation no doubt—and will look to compete at a deep QB group.
Tolzien, while perhaps a more natural pocket-passer, does not have the sky-high potential of either Johnson or Kapernick. His eventual exodus seems almost inevitable.
Players to Watch
In the NFL preseason, it's always good to note some players to watch before the game, otherwise it's easy to lose interest by halftime.
San Francisco has some new additions, as well as returning players transitioning into new roles, and each will be interesting to observe for their own reasons.
Colin Kaepernick, QB
Reason: Unless there are some sort of drastic circumstances, Kaepernick won't be the starter this year—but he might be someday.
For Kaepernick, real game-time reps are few and far between, so it will be interesting to see him perform in the face of competition. Also, it will be good to gauge his mechanics and progress from his rookie preseason to his second time around.
went back to workouts this morning and i stayed turnt up! my body is a temple im trying to break down! i want to build it stronger!— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) July 2, 2012
LaMichael James, RB
Reason: People are dying to see James operate against NFL-level competition and that first opportunity will come in the first preseason game. James had an outstanding college career that a lot of people expect to continue into the pros.
In the NCAA, he was known for his speed and game-breaking ability, but he is yet to play a down as a pro. The coaching staff will be sure to get James plenty of preseason touches.
S/o to everyone who has a 49er jersey with James on the back ... Tru fans and I love you guys thanks for the support! Lmj23— LaMichael James (@LaMichaelJames) June 27, 2012
Aldon Smith, LB
Reason: If all goes well, Aldon Smith will be transitioning from a situational player in his rookie year to a starter in his second. However, with this promotion comes the added responsibility and overall knowledge of the position.
As a pass-rush specialist in 2011, Smith must become more versatile in his duties, adapting to play the run and particularly zone coverages.
He found success early on and projects to be a solid football player, especially as such a physically-gifted athlete. Smith should draw the attention of viewers who are interested in seeing the progression in his overall game.
Thanks again everyone for your support and prayers. I'm feeling great! #timetogetsacks— Aldon Smith (@aldonsmithJETS) July 7, 2012
Chris Culliver, CB
Reason: Culliver should be the future of the 49ers at cornerback someday, when Carlos Rogers has left the game of football or Tarell Brown has moved on to another team, whichever comes first.
Culliver was one of San Francisco's rookies in 2011 to see significant game time and show serious potential for the future.
I would hope and expect Rogers to sit out the preseason, allowing Culliver to see significant reps and go against first-team offenses.
He has the size, speed, physicality and ball skills to be a Pro Bowl cornerback, but whether or not he can make it happen is yet to be seen. His progress will be one of the more captivating story lines for the 49ers this season.
I love football #thankful— Chris culliver (@Cullyinthehouse) June 8, 2012
Demarcus Dobbs, DL
Reason: Dobbs is one of the more intriguing backups on the 49ers roster. In 2011, Dobbs was one of the undrafted free agents to make Harbaugh's squad—and behind a starting defensive line group that is arguably the league's best, that is quite an accomplishment.
Dobbs is a big, physical specimen that is still learning the ropes but could one day have a prominent role in San Francisco's defense.
Perrish Cox, CB
Reason: Another player that should draw interest is newly signed cornerback Perrish Cox. At one time, Cox was a starter in this league, playing for the Denver Broncos and coach Ed Donatell —now 49ers secondary coach.
Cox should receive a solid amount of reps in the preseason, and since he spent some time away from football, it will be good to see how he does finding his rhythm.
If Cox works out and he lives up to his potential, San Francisco could have the one of the deepest cornerback groups in the NFL.
Alex Boone, RG
Reason: For obvious reasons, Boone is a player to watch closely in the preseason. The front office made a relatively quick decision, entrusting him as a capable starting guard for San Francisco.
It will be re-assuring to see Boone not having any Chilo Rachal-esque miscues in preseason competition. At near 6'8, we'll also want to look for Boone playing lower, gaining leverage on his opponent.
Kyle Williams, WR
Reason: Kyle Williams began this offseason strong, looking sharp at minicamp and OTA's. Williams is a talented wide receiver and, after a heartbreaking end to the season, is looking to come back better than before.
He may have the quickest feet of the 49ers' receivers and has pretty solid pass-catching ability.
Randy Moss and Michael Crabtree might not see significant reps in the preseason, so Williams should be the guy to watch, and I wouldn't be surprised if he lead the preseason in receiving.
And if you think that doesn't mean anything, Aldon Smith led it last year in sacks and Kendall Hunter led it last year in rushing.
Count blessings not misfortunes chances are u have it better than u think— Kyle Williams (@KyleWilliams_10) June 2, 2012
Brandon Jacobs, RB
Reason: As one of the 49ers' new additions, the spotlight will be on him just to see how he's acclimated. Jacobs is a powerful runner, but was hoping to lower his playing weight this offseason to increase his top speed.
It will be interesting to look for any style changes, however minor. Also, does he look good enough to push out a young two-way player like Dixon?
Randy Moss, WR
Reason: Moss' preseason could go one of two ways. (1) Moss sees time because he and Harbaugh think it couldn't hurt to get him re-acclimated to the speed of the game. (2) Moss sees very little time and perhaps does not even suit up for all—if any—preseason games because Harbaugh knows he doesn't need it.
If it turns out to be option No. 1, then Moss is a player to watch, especially if Alex Smith is in at QB.
While everything we've heard about Moss until has been glowing, we have yet to see this 35-year-old suit up against anything resembling competition. It will be nice to guage his speed, desire and overall, whether that dominance is still there.
Trenton Robinson, S
Reason: Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke displayed a methodical but successful prowess in their first draft together, finding success even with late-rounders.
Robinson was a sixth-rounder in this past 2012 NFL draft; maybe undersized for his position at 5'9, but has good coverage skills. It will be interesting to see how he flocks to the ball in preseason, especially with uncertainty and lack of depth at the safety position.
Keep working and it will pay off even if at the moment there is no sign of it will come #believe— Trenton Robinson (@T_Robinson39) July 16, 2012
Steve Young and Jerry Rice took part in an interesting segment on ESPN, discussing the the 49ers' offseason and upcoming 2012 season. For their insight, click here. Their discussion involves players to watch, specifically Randy Moss and Alex Smith.
Best Depth Chart Battles
Chris Culliver vs. Tarell Brown, Cornerback
Culliver was a higher pick, coming to San Francisco in 2011 as a third-rounder, and might be starter-ready right now.
However, veteran 49er Tarell Brown posted a strong season last year in his first as a starter and it would be nonsensical for the team to show their gratitude by bumping him down a notch on the depth chart.
I would expect Culliver to come into camp with aspirations to push Brown for time, or at the least solidify a future with the team. While Culliver probably has the higher ceiling with his physical ability and background as a return threat, Brown plays pretty mistake-free football.
Parys Haralson vs. Aldon Smith, Outside Linebacker
It's a fair assumption to say the right outside linebacker position is Smith's to lose. While Parys Haralson was a solid starter for the 49ers' defense in 2011, Smith is a special player that brings a whole new dynamic to San Francisco's D as a whole.
Smith will have to prove in camp that he is ready to take on the added responsibility that comes with being a starter.
While Haralson is fully aware of the situation, he will not be letting off the gas in training camp or preseason, so it should be an exciting battle to watch.
LaMichael James vs. Kendall Hunter, Running Back
It's LaMichael James vs. the poor man's LaMichael James.
James (5'8") and Hunter (5'7") are both compact players with explosion as all-purpose backs. They can hit the gaps, break a run outside and catch out of the backfield.
Looking at the 49ers' now-loaded running back corps, these are the two most similar players in terms of style. And while Hunter had a strong rookie debut in 2011, he is not as established as Frank Gore and will be challenged by a hungry LaMichael James for time.
At first glance, they both have a lot to offer San Francisco's offense, so it will take some careful scrutiny by the 49ers staff when figuring out how to best utilize these two talents.
Michael Crabtree vs. Mario Manningham, Wide Receiver
There will be offensive sets where it's Moss and Manningham, in scenarios where San Francisco feels they could benefit from having the extra speed on the field.
While Moss came in to play a role that was missing in the 49ers' offense, Manningham was brought in to push Michael Crabtree and provide depth.
NaVorro Bowman vs. Patrick Willis, Inside Linebacker
Just for the sake of the competition these two provide for one another, and their never-ending drive to get better, they are worth mentioning. They are the two entrenched starters at inside linebacker, as the league's All-Pro tandem.
As long as they remain together, they will continue to fuel one another and raise their game. There should be some visible growth in their second year together, so this offseason should be a productive one for them.
Full 49ers Training Camp and Preseason Schedule
July 21 - 49ers rookies and selected veterans to report for training camp in Santa Clara, CA
July 23 - The first practice for 49ers rookies and selected veterans
July 26 - 49ers veterans to report for training camp in Santa Clara, CA
July 27 - 49ers first full-squad practice in Santa Clara, CA
August 7 - Deadline for players under contract to report in order to earn an accrued season
August 10 - Preseason: Game 1 vs. Minnesota Vikings, 6pm PT
August 18 - Preseason: Game 2 @ Houston Texans, 5pm PT
August 26 - Preseason: Game 3 @ Denver Broncos, 1pm PT
August 28 - Roster cut down from 90 players to a maximum of 80
August 30 - Preseason: Game 4 vs. San Diego Chargers, 7:05pm PT
September 2 - Roster cut down to final 53-man squad
Click here for a full rundown of the 49ers entire 2012-2013 calendar, courtesy of Matt Maiocco at CSN Bay Area.
49ers Training Camp Info
4949 Centennial Boulevard
Santa Clara, CA 95054
After a four-year run holding training camp at Pacific University in Stockton, CA (1998-2002), the 49ers moved to their facility in Santa Clara in 2003 and have been there ever since.
The club's longest run at a single training facility came during the Bill Walsh, George Seifert, Steve Mariucci days from 1981 to 1997, where the team trained at Sierra College in Rocklin.
The 49ers will hold camp from July 21st to the end of August in the Bay Area's Santa Clara facility located behind team headquarters.
For tickets to 49ers training camp, visit 49ers.com.
Full 49ers Camp Roster
* = Starter (projected)
R = Rookie
Hampton, Jewel - R
James, LaMichael - R
Bell, Cameron - R
Ginn Jr., Ted
Jenkins, A.J. - R
Nelson, Kyle - R
Owusu, Chris - R
Palmer, Nathan - R
Tyms, Brian - R
Celek, Garrett - R
Boone, Alex* (listed as tackle, starting right guard)
Looney, Joe - R
Netter, Al - R
Gonzales, David - R
Slowey, Jason - R
Jerod-Eddie, Tony - R
Butrym, Patrick - R
Masifilo, Matthew - R
Bakhtiari, Eric - R
Brown, Kourtnei - R
Fleming, Darius - R
Holland, Joe - R
Johnson, Cam - R
Hannula, Ben - R
Mosley, Anthony - R
Purvis, Deante - R
Legree, Mark - R
Robinson, Trenton - R
Thomas, Michael - R
Tavecchio, Giorgio - R
49ers 2012 Rookie Class
A.J. Jenkins, WR - Illinois
Breakdown: A lot of followers were pretty certain that San Francisco would go wide receiver with their first opportunity to pick in the draft, but most didn't predict that A.J. Jenkins would be the name called.
The receiver from Illinois does not possess the size you hope for in a first-round receiver, but his downfield speed and hands give him value. Jenkins has had a bumpy start, but is in a position where there is no need to perform immediately—he can sit back and learn with occasional reps through the season.
Round 2, Pick 61
LaMichael James, RB - Oregon
Breakdown: To a degree, LaMichael James was also sort of a surprise pick, but considering the 49ers were looking for speed and game-breaking ability on the offensive side of the football, this selection makes plenty of sense.
James was one of the most prolific backs in college football, as a consistent performer and current NCAA record-holder. Frank Gore, 29, could be looking to take a step back from football in a few years, in which case James would be ready to go.
If his college career is any indication of what he can do as a pro, the 49ers might have their next franchise back.
Round 4, Pick 117
Joe Looney, OL - Wake Forest
Breakdown: The addition of Joe Looney seemed to be a continuance of the the 49ers' draft philosophy from last year, in that they want to acquire high-potential offensive lineman in the later rounds who will not be under any pressure to perform immediately.
Like Daniel Kilgore and Mike Person, Looney is a work-in-progress but a potential starter someday as an interior lineman.
Round 5, Pick 165
Darius Fleming, LB - Notre Dame
Breakdown: As a fifth-rounder, Fleming was the 49ers' highest defensive picks in the 2012 NFL draft.
Unfortunately, Fleming sustained a season-ending ACL injury and will be a non-factor this coming season, but he could look at this setback as an opportunity to absorb information to get a head-start when he is ready to return.
Round 6, Pick 180
Trenton Robinson, S - Michigan State
Breakdown: Robinson is an undersized player at 5'9" but his ability to make plays at the college level provided him with the opportunity to be drafted.
San Francisco has done a good job rebuilding their secondary and finding players that fly around the football, so hopefully Robinson is the next in line to provide talent and depth at a revamped position group.
Round 6, Pick 199
Jason Slowey, C - Western Oregon
Breakdown: Slowey at 6'3", 303-pounds was the starting left tackle at Western Oregon but projects well as a center at the pro level. Since Jonathan Goodwin is entering the final year of his short-term contract with the 49ers, Slowey could find himself to be in the picture sooner rather than later.
Like the other offensive lineman San Francisco has drafted under Harbaugh, Slowey is a developmental project rather than an immediate contributor.
Round 7, Pick 237
Cam Johnson, DE - Virginia
The Niners will ask him to stand up in their scheme and hopefully have the same sort of success rushing the quarterback. In Johnson's first year, San Francisco will likely use him in obvious passing situations as an outside-rusher.
49ers 2012 Undrafted Free Agents
Chris Owusu, WR - Stanford
Michael Thomas, S - Stanford
Tony Jerod-Eddie, DT - Texas A & M
Brian Tyms, WR - FAMU
Nathan Palmer, WR - NIU
Joe Holland, OLB - Purdue
Jewel Hampton, RB - SIU
David Gonzales, OL - Washington State
Kevin Murphy, OL - Harvard
Anthony Mosley, CB - Kentucky
Dajuan Cofield, RB - San Jose State
Kourtnei Brown, DE - Clemson
Patrick Butrym, DL - Wisconsin
Garrett Celek, TE - Michigan State
Matt Masifilo, DT - Stanford
Deante Purvis, DB - UNLV
Al Netter, OL - Northwestern
Giorgio Tavecchio, K - Cal
Players with Best Shot to Make the Team
Chris Owusu: The 49ers' receiving corps is now a stacked group, which is working against Owusu, however the former Stanford receiver is at training camp for a reason and has a lot of things working in his favor.
The wide receiver position is also one to sustain injury, which could provide Owusu with a window of opportunity.
Jim Harbaugh obviously thinks Owusu has something to offer at the pro level or else he wouldn't be at training camp. If it were not for the concussion history, Owusu would've been a much more highly regarded prospect, but lest we forget, he was Andrew Luck's best deep threat at Stanford.
He has straight-line speed and playmaking ability with the ball, and was a versatile player in the Cardinal offense.
Kourtnei Brown: With an injury to 49ers 2012 draftee, Darius Fleming, San Francisco is looking for someone to step up and provide depth at linebacker.
Brown is a big, lengthy pass-rush specialist who was a defensive end for Clemson, and projects to transition to a stand-up rush linebacker. His build has caught the eye of the 49ers' coaching staff in that it resembles last year's rookie, Aldon Smith.
Brown, listed at 6'6", is actually two inches taller than Aldon Smith, and has the physical attributes you look for in a player making this type of transition. Also, based on last year, it seems the 49ers' defensive staff is well-equipped to take on such a project.
Michael Thomas: Thomas' chances aren't bad because the 49ers are in need of quality depth at safety. Another Stanford alum, Thomas is familiar with San Francisco's coaching staff and the way they do things, which includes the playbook to a degree and practice tempo.
Thomas could assimilate easier than most other rookies, and be a two-way player, playing a backup role on defense and factoring into special teams.
He is also a versatile player, having both experience as a nickel corner and safety at the college level.
San Francisco appreciates versatility and playmaking ability, especially when it comes to fringe players fighting for a roster spot. If Thomas has an impressive training camp and/or preseason, he could secure a place with the team.
Tony Jerod-Eddie: Jerod-Eddie is an exciting prospect as a defensive lineman. He is a 6'5", 300-plus pound 3-4 tackle that performed at a high level with Texas A&M. In his last season as an Aggie, Jerod-Eddie posted career highs with 56 tackles (seven for loss) and 5 sacks.
Jerod-Eddie has a great corps of players to compete with and learn from during training camp, and he already has the build to be a defensive lineman in this scheme.
Jerod-Eddie has a high ceiling because he is a raw talent that will have face-time with Justin Smith and Jim Tomsula. Those two men alone could help bring the greatness out of this young man and help him reach his potential.
49ers 2012 Free Agency and Trade Additions
Randy Moss, WR
After Moss had an impressive" visit with the New Orleans Saints, he left without a contract to meet with Jim Harbaugh in Santa Clara—Harbaugh didn't let Moss leave unsigned. After the two figured out the particulars of what they would both like out of this deal, they were able to come to a one-year agreement.
In his brief time as a 49er, Moss has been a model player; sitting at the front of the class and deflecting any media opportunities. And physically-speaking, the reports have been that Moss looks as good as ever, flying around and making tough grabs look easy.
Until we hear otherwise, it looks like this deal might work out the way the 49ers hoped it would. If Harbaugh can keep Moss motivated and involved, not only will Moss make the team but he should have another solid season to add to his already impressive Hall of Fame resume'.
Mario Manningham, WR
This is still one of the more intriguing pick-ups by San Francisco because, on a two-year deal, Manningham's stint with the 49ers could be brief or he could play his way into a new contract.
This was a smart move by San Francisco to poach one of the New York Giants' wide receivers because that has been a position where they have been drafting strong.
Despite his clutch performances and unique role in their offense, the Giants could not retain Manningham, and with the rise of Victor Cruz, they could afford to move on—Cruz's ascension may turn out to be the 49ers' gain.
Manningham brings experience, quickness and playmaking ability to an offense that desperately needs it.
With the additions of Moss and Manningham alone, the 49ers' passing attack should be much improved in 2012.
Brandon Jacobs, RB
Even through their recent losing years this past decade, and without Jim Harbaugh, the Niners have kept a solid ground attack. A lot of the credit can go to Frank Gore but a substantial amount must be directed toward running backs coach Tom Rathman.
Rathman is versatile in that he has been able to work with all sorts of style of runners and get production out of them. After helping Gore become the 49ers' all-time leading rusher, he assisted Kendall Hunter with a smooth transition into the pros and turned a collegiate defensive end into an outstanding all-round fullback.
Jacobs is the next lump of clay in line for the Rathman treatment, and step one is to lose 10 pounds. T
he two-time Super Bowl winning Giant typically checked in at 265 pounds, and as high as 285, but has said he would like to get below 260 for the first time in his career. Jacobs will be more rock-solid physically and have an extra gear when he has open space.
He is a player to watch in 2012 as he could be revitalized in his first season with San Francisco.
Perrish Cox, CB
An interesting value move by the franchise this offseason was the signing of cornerback Perrish Cox, formerly a starter with the Denver Broncos.
Cox will be reunited with secondary coach Ed Donatell, whom he worked with during his days at Mile High. Donatell helped turn this entire secondary around, and what was once the Achilles heel of the 49ers is now a team strength.
The acquisition of Cox is no coincidence, and it's likely that Donatell sees a fit here for Cox in this defense. He was a good player for Denver, but after some off-the-field unpleasantness, Cox is looking for a new opportunity to start fresh.
The addition of Cox gives San Francisco four very good cornerbacks, which will be essential as they look to make a title run in today's passing league.
The 49ers did not make any player trades this offseason, but they were actively moving around during the 2012 NFL Draft. San Francisco made four trades, in three of which, they moved back and stockpiled picks.
2012 NFL Draft: 49ers Parlay
|49ers give||49ers receive|
|92||97, 2013 5th|
|97||103, 196, 2013 6th|
|103||180, 2013 3rd|
Game-by-Game Preseason Analysis and Prediction
vs. Minnesota Vikings
Friday, August 10th, 2012
Breakdown: The Minnesota Vikings have been struggling recently in an ultra-competitive NFC North division. However, they do have some star power at a few key positions.
Although the 49ers might not expect Adrian Peterson, they will have to deal with Percy Harvin and Jerome Simpson. As far as the Vikings' defense is concerned, the 49ers should look to throw to beat the blitz and take advantage their highly questionable secondary.
Match-up to Watch: Jared Allen vs. Joe Staley
Prediction: 23-0 SF
@ Houston Texans
Saturday, August 18th, 2012
Breakdown: The Houston Texans are a very good and extremely well-balanced football team. With players like Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson, Arian Foster and Ben Tate, the Texans have a three-dimensional offensive attack.
Their defense has also come on strong as one of the league's better units, and they helped the Texans while being riddled with injury. Houston also has depth like San Francisco, so this could be a close, competitive match until the end.
Match-up to Watch: Arian Foster & Ben Tate vs. 49ers front
Prediction: 10-3 HOU
@ Denver Broncos
Sunday, August 26th, 2012
Breakdown: In 2012, Denver will be the new-look Broncos, now featuring future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning. Like it has been his entire career, the offense will be structured around what Manning does.
Denver will also probably be looking to shake any rust off Manning before the regular season, so they might allow him to let it rip here. This will be a nice challenge for the 49ers' younger secondary players, as well as the guys up front, given Manning's notoriously quick release.
Match-up to Watch: Peyton Manning vs. 49ers secondary
Prediction: 21-17 DEN
vs. San Diego Chargers
Thursday, August 30th, 2012
Breakdown: What better way to end the preseason than an inter-state battle? The Chargers made some moves this offseason, parting ways with Vincent Jackson, Marcus McNeill, Mike Tolbert and Bob Sanders.
However, San Diego did add Robert Meachem and signed Le'Ron McClain as new weapons for the offense. The Chargers are on the brink of a total organizational makeover if they can't put something solid together in 2012, but they are counting on a lot of youth to step up an make a difference.
Match-up to Watch: Ryan Matthews & Le'Ron McClain vs. 49ers linebackers
Prediction: 33-10 SD
Projecting the Final 53-Man Roster
QB: A. Smith, C. Kaepernick
RB: F. Gore, K. Hunter, B. Jacobs, L. James, R. Cartwright
FB: B. Miller
WR: R.Moss, M. Crabtree, M. Manningham, K. Williams, T. Ginn, A.J. Jenkins
TE: V. Davis, D. Walker, N. Byham
LT: J. Staley
LG: M. Iupati, J. Looney
C: J. Goodwin, J. Slowey
RG: A. Boone, D. Kilgore
RT: A. Davis
LDT: R. McDonald, W. Tukuafu
NT: I. Sopoaga, R. Jean-Francois
RDT: J. Smith, D. Dobbs
LOLB: A. Brooks, C. Johnson, K. Brown
ILB: P. Willis, N. Bowman, L. Grant, T. Gooden
ROLB: A. Smith, P. Haralson
CB: C. Rogers, T. Brown, C. Culliver, P. Cox, T. Brock
FS: D. Goldson, T. Robinson, Colin Jones
SS: D. Whitner, C.J. Spillman
K: D. Akers
P: A. Lee
TE/LS: B. Jennings