The 3rd pre-season game is the last impression a player can make on a coach before the first round of cuts come today. With that mentality, there were a number of players who came into the 49ers game and played their hearts out. We'll be looking at five players who went out and may have saved their jobs by their play on Sunday.
With cuts coming down today, you can bet some of these players had little sleep, but hopefully their hard work got them another shot at making the roster, let's take a look to see which non-starters increased their stock in the 3rd pre-season game.
These are player who, if you actually watched the game, you saw made an impact.Running Back Knowshon Moreno
Moreno went out and showed everyone what his role was in this system, along with showing some toughness most felt he didn't have. Throw in the struggles of Xavier Omon (who didn't even play), the inconsistency of Jeremiah Johnson (who was explosive at times but struggled mightily most of the time, especially in blocking and special teams work) and the injury to Lance Ball, while minor, should all but lock Moreno's roster spot, at least through this first round of cuts. If he can play like this in the last pre-season game, he should easily make the roster.
Quarterback Caleb Hanie
Many fans, myself included, were not high on Hanie, and while I still have serious questions about his play, he has clearly head and shoulders above Adam Weber and Brock Osweiler on Sunday. While Hanie's interception was a big mistake, it was about the only one he made, leading the team to the only points they saw after Manning left the game. Overall when compared to rookie Osweiler, it's clear who Fox trusts to be the true #2 quarterback on the roster.
Safety David Bruton
Bruton had one play blow up on him, and reception where he overran Kyle Williams, but outside of that he was solid, especially in coverage. The struggles of Rahim Moore may also bring him name further into the safety zone to avoid the cut. Bruton spent time with the 2nd and 3rd units on defense and was able to come away showing some fire in his play, I counted three players where he came from across the field to try and get in on a tackle, you can tell this guy wants to make the team. He'll need another strong showing this week though to separate himself from the mess at safety and make the 53 man roster.
Linebacker Steven Johnson
While Johnson didn't make any huge plays on Sunday, he was consistently physical near the line of scrimmage against the 49ers rushing attack. He wrapped up much better than fellow linebacker Nate Irving, and also didn't get dragged around like Irving. Overall Johnson was very active, always near the point of attack and always throwing his body around. Considering the struggles of the 2nd unit defense, Johnson was a bright spot. Overall because of the struggles of the depth linebackers, Johnson did himself a big favor on Sunday by playing so well, while he'll still need some work to make the 53, he should have bought himself time.
Defensive Lineman Malik Jackson
Jackson, like rookie Derek Wolfe, is a hybrid DE/DT and because of that saw a lot of action from a variety of positions across the defensive line. Overall Jackson looked solid, being able to pressure the quarterback at times but also playing the run well. While he's not at Robert Ayers or Jason Hunter's level, he's looking like he could one of the versatile lineman Del Rio has been talking about using in his multi-front defense. Jackson's two tackles both came on nice plays.