Editor's note: This is the fourth part in a series that spotlights five 49ers players to watch in the team's final exhibition game Thursday, 7 p.m. (KCBW-TV), vs. the San Diego Chargers at Candlestick Park.
No. 5 -- WR Nathan PalmerNo. 4 -- CB Tramaine Brock
No. 3 -- WR Chris OwusuNo. 2 -- QB Scott Tolzien
The San Diego Chargers did not take any chances with quarterback Philip Rivers. He did not suit up for the exhibition finale a year ago. And they took few chances with backup Billy Volek.So it was Scott Tolzien's time to show what he had.Tolzien completed 16 of 23 passes for 226 yards. It wasn't enough to win a job with the Chargers. They cut him. But the 49ers, the Chargers' opponent that game, claimed him off waivers. He spent his rookie season as the 49ers' No. 3 quarterback.
While the final exhibition game is the most dreadful from a spectator standpoint, Tolzien views it as an important opportunity."I think about last year," Tolzien said, "and I think a lot of times fans think about it as the last game before the regular season. For us, it's important for all of us trying to win a roster spot."In many ways, Tolzien is back in a similar situation as a year ago. This time he's competing for a job with the 49ers. And the Chargers might be interested if he becomes available.Tolzien appears to be on equal footing with veteran Josh Johnson for the No. 3 job behind starter Alex Smith and backup Colin Kaepernick.Smith is expected to start Thursday night against the Chargers, but he will not play much. Then, there will be time for Kaepernick, Tolzien and Johnson to play. Perhaps, the competition for the No. 3 job will be settled.The onus could be on Johnson to prove that he is the better option. Johnson is scheduled to earn 700,000 this season. The 49ers already awarded him a 350,000 signing bonus as part of his two-year contract. Tolzien is on the books for 465,000.There is a chance the loser in the competition ends up on another roster. That's what happened a year ago for Tolzien, as the Chargers retained just two quarterbacks.Tolzien said he tries not to think about things that are out of his control."That's one of those outside forces," Tolzien said. "You control it based on the product you're putting on the field. You want to put out good film and look back with no regrets."
SANTA CLARA – The 49ers are expected to replenish their linebacker to help the team get through upcoming practices and their final three exhibition games.
The 49ers on Wednesday created two roster spots to sign replacements, as the team designated linebackers Donavin Newsom and Jayson DiManche as waived/injured.
General manager John Lynch said the designation was a formality for Newsom, who will revert back to the 49ers after clearing waivers. Newsom will remain under contract to the 49ers after going on injured reserve.
“He’s doing better each day,” Lynch said. “We’re going to put him on injured reserve. It will come across the wire procedurally as a waived-injured, but he’s going to be on injured reserve. And talking with our doctors, he got great care up here at Stanford. It’s the best thing for the kid. Give him time to really get right. So, (I) had a good talk with him this morning.”
Newsom, an undrafted rookie from Colorado, sustained a serious concussion on Aug. 8 and was taken by ambulance off the practice field to Stanford Hospital. He spent two nights in the hospital as a precaution.
DiManche was signed last week and participated in seven plays on defense and 15 on special teams before sustaining a hamstring injury in the 49ers’ exhibition opener against the Kansas City Chiefs. Newly signed linebacker Sean Porter sustained a quadriceps injury in the game against the Chiefs and has also not been available to practice.
Von Miller has 73.5 sacks to his name over six seasons in the NFL. He's a five-time Prow Bowl linebacker, three-time All-Pro, Super Bowl champion, and Super Bowl MVP.
Trent Brown has played 21 games in two NFL seasons for the 49ers, 18 of them as starts. Despite his little time in the NFL and lack of honors, the Broncos' defensive star sees San Francisco's young offensive lineman as the best in the game at his position.
“He’s the best right tackle in the National Football League,” Miller said to the San Francisco Chronicle Wednesday after the first of two joint practices with the 49ers. “And he may even be a top-five tackle, period, in the National Football League. There’s not another tackle who’s that tall, that big and can move he way he moves.”
Brown, at 24 years old and standing 6-foot-8 while weighing 355 pounds, was the only offensive lineman invited to Miller's "Pass Rush Summit" at Stanford in June. Miller says he invited Brown so he could gain more knowledge, but also added, "from my point of view, we could get it (more knowledge) from a premier-offensive-tackle point of view.”
The two went up against each other in the trenches Wednesday in Santa Clara. After Brown held his own, Miller poured on the praise, but he made it clear how the young offensive lineman's future is all up to himself. Brown holds the keys to his potential.
"He’ll be as good as he wants to be," Miller said. "When he’s on, there’s not another tackle in the National Football League that’s as good as him."
Miller also made a bold prediction. "He’s going to have one of the biggest (contracts) for an offensive lineman."
Brown's rookie deal ends after the 2018 season.