As each side ponders what their final 53-man roster will look like, the San Francisco 49ers will get a closer look at how well quarterback Colin Kaepernick has recovered from his injuries while the San Diego Chargers are looking for more depth at running back ahead of Thursday’s last preseason game at Qualcomm Stadium.
San Francisco head coach Chip Kelly told reporters on Tuesday that Kaepernick would play against the Chargers, while Blaine Gabbert will not. Kelly said the decision came down to getting Kaepernick more opportunities, unlike Gabbert, who’s started the three previous preseason games and perhaps already has a firm grip on the starting job.
"We've got a good understanding of where Blaine is," Kelly said. "Unfortunately because of Colin’s injury, missing those first two preseason games, he's only gotten 13 snaps. We’ve got to move forward, and see if we can get him some more snaps here.”
Kaepernick has been the 49ers starter for the last three and a half seasons, but shoulder, knee, and thumb injuries have hampered his play and limited his participation in training camp and the preseason.
Kelly also said he plans to keep all four of his quarterbacks, including rookie Jeff Driskel and former Viking Christian Ponder, on the roster for the matchup with San Diego.
There’s a chance Kaepernick is playing for a roster spot. He’s attempted only six passes in the preseason, all coming in last week’s controversy-laden contest with the Green Bay Packers, and unless the 28-year-old can flash some of the dual-threat ability that made him a Super Bowl starter the 49ers could part ways and save some salary cap.
On the other sideline, the Chargers are looking for rookie running back Kenneth Farrow to show he can handle third-string duties after Branden Oliver suffered an Achilles tear in last week’s loss at Minnesota and is reportedly out for the season.
The former Houston back Farrow has tallied 60 yards off 16 attempts behind Melvin Gordon and pass-catching back Danny Woodhead, and though he’s drawn praise from head coach Mike McCoy, San Diego did claim Gus Johnson off waivers from Atlanta on Monday.
Johnson, who’s spent time with Oakland and Dallas, could split or take some carries away from Farrow as the two jostle for one of the final roster spots.
And while the Chargers and rookie defensive end Joey Bosa ended their long-running contract standoff, the former Ohio State star isn’t expected to play after missing all of training camp. Bosa has participated in practice but San Diego is focused on getting him ready for the regular season opener over the next couple of weeks.
Start Time: Thursday, 10 p.m. ET
TV Channels: KPIX 5 (San Francisco); CBS 8 (San Diego)
Live Stream: A live stream is available at NFL Game Pass