San Francisco 49ers Week 1 Stock Report
San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick couldn’t raise his stock against the San Diego Chargers in Week 4 of the preseason because he didn’t play in that game. He stood on the sideline and watched rookie quarterback Dylan Thompson play for four quarters.
The Niners cut Thompson two days later.
So Kaepernick begins the regular season with his stock at an all-time low. He seems less confident in the pocket than ever, frequently holding the ball longer than he should. During the preseason, he was out of sync with the rest of his offense and, as a result, completed just five passes.
That’s one stock report. Here are five more for the 49ers as they enter Week 1.
Stock Up: CB Kenneth Acker
Second-year cornerback Kenneth Acker’s stock has climbed steadily all offseason.
The former sixth-round pick spent his rookie season on the injured reserve list with an injured foot, so he’s basically a redshirt rookie. That’s how the coaches treated him when OTAs started this offseason, and he was at the bottom of the depth chart.
He never stood out during practices, didn’t intercept a bunch of passes or do anything flashy. Days would go by, and you wouldn’t notice him. Then you’d think, “When was the last time I saw Acker give up a catch?”
“Acker has really come on and done a great job,” 49ers head coach Jim Tomsula said Tuesday afternoon.
Tomsula didn’t officially name Acker the starting cornerback opposite Tramaine Brock, but Acker seems to be the favorite.
Stock Down: CB Shareece Wright
Who is Acker competing against for the No. 2 cornerback job? Tomsula answered that question Tuesday afternoon:
“(Keith) Reaser and (Kenneth) Acker are right there right now really getting after it,” he said. “Now, Dontae (Johnson) is in the mix. … If you want somebody that’s going to be on a depth chart, it’ll probably say Reaser and Acker through the week.”
Tomsula named every corner on the team other than Brock, the No. 1 corner, and veteran Shareece Wright. It seems Wright has become an afterthought.
When the 49ers signed Wright this offseason, general manager Trent Baalke compared him to Carlos Rogers, the cornerback the Niners signed in 2011. Rogers became the Niners’ No. 1 cornerback that season and earned a trip to the Pro Bowl.
Wright doesn’t seem like the next Rogers.; he seems more like a guy who will be inactive during games.
Wright is the slowest cornerback on a team that will face fast wide receivers early in the season, such as Mike Wallace of the Minnesota Vikings, Antonio Brown and Markus Wheaton of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and John Brown and J.J. Nelson of the Arizona Cardinals.
Stock Up: WR Bruce Ellington
Healthy, second-year wide receiver Bruce Ellington seems like the most explosive player for the 49ers.
He gets injured a lot, however. Last year, he missed four games with an ankle injury during the middle of the season, then played through a pulled hamstring toward the end of the season.
This offseason, Ellington missed OTAs and minicamp with another hamstring injury, and then missed most of training camp with another leg problem.
Ellington finally seemed close to being fully healthy by Week 4 of the preseason, when he caught three passes for 86 yards and one touchdown and also returned three punts for 44 yards. He had one long return called back due to a holding penalty by Marcus Cromartie.
Tomsula talked about Ellington at his postgame press conference:
“When it comes to … getting in before practice, taking care of his body before practice, taking care of his body after practice, doing those regeneration things and massages … I didn’t feel like he was doing that,” he said. “We had a man’s conversation. And, I will say that since then, Bruce Ellington has done everything I’ve asked him to do in that way.”
Translation: Ellington wasn’t acting like a true professional before, but now he is.
Now, he’s someone the 49ers can rely on. It seems they’re relying on him to be the No. 3 receiver and maybe the punt returner, as well.
Stock Down: WR Quinton Patton
Third-year receiver Quinton Patton had every opportunity to win the No. 3 receiver job.
One of Patton’s main competitors, Ellington, missed most of the offseason due to various injuries. And Patton’s other main competitor, Jerome Simpson, is suspended by the NFL for the first six games of the regular season.
If Patton played well during one preseason game, or even one practice, he probably would have won the No. 3 receiver job. But he never stood out.
He seemed to catch one short pass per day during team drills in training camp. During the preseason, he caught five passes for 12 yards.
Patton may be the fifth and last receiver on the 49ers’ depth chart. He may not suit up for the games.
Stock Up: DE Arik Armstead
When the 49ers drafted former defensive lineman Arik Armstead in the first round this year, he didn’t seem like a pass-rusher. He seemed like a run-stuffer who needed at least a year to develop.
But as a run-stuffer, he was a liability at times during the preseason. He didn’t seem strong enough to hold his ground against double-team blocks in the running game. He won’t be a viable run-defender until he can take on double teams.
Here’s what’s ironic: Armstead actually seems like a decent pass-rusher. He recorded seven pressures and one quarterback hit during the preseason, according to Pro Football Focus.
Armstead may be the 49ers’ best interior rusher, better than third-year defensive lineman Cornellius "Tank" Carradine. Expect Armstead to play a key role for the Niners on passing downs this season.
All quotations and practice observations obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.