Posted: 12:20 p.m. Friday, Aug. 23, 2013
By David Fucillo
The San Francisco 49ers and Minnesota Vikings wrap up this week's preseason schedule on Sunday Night Football. While starters are likely to get more playing time than in any other game, we'll still get a chance to see some deep roster guys come the fourth quarter. Teams are required to cut down to 75 players this coming week, so there will be plenty of players looking to buy one more chance to show what they have.
I spoke with Daily Norseman's Chris Gates to see who a few of these players would be for the Vikings. He put together a list of three players to keep an eye on late in the game.
Anthony McCloud, defensive tackle, No. 76
McCloud was a guy that the Vikings signed as an undrafted free agent out of Florida State University this past April, and has really been making some noise this pre-season. He has overshadowed his fellow Florida State DT, Everett Dawkins (who the Vikings took in the seventh round), and could potentially fill a big need for the Vikings.
Minnesota currently has a lot of guys that can play the "three-technique" spot, but don't really have a guy that could potentially rotate in with Fred Evans at the nose tackle spot. At 6'5" and about 325 pounds, McCloud certainly has the ability to fill that role. With third-year man Christian Ballard having left the team for still undisclosed personal reasons, McCloud could potentially see more action on Sunday and give himself a chance to make this roster. If the Vikings keep this guy and quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson. . .full name McLeod John Balthazar Bethel-Thompson. . .they will undoubtedly lead the league in guys named McCloud/McLeod, which has to count for something, right?
(Then again, maybe there can be. . .only one.)
Travis Bond, offensive line, No. 76
Bond, another of the Vikings' seventh round picks, is one tough guy. How tough, you say? He got hit by an SUV last year and needed to be talked into going to a medical facility. Let me repeat that. . .dude got hit by an SUV, got up, and walked away. That said, Bond has had a bit of a rough go of things this pre-season thus far, but has intriguing enough size (6'7", 325) and ability that the Vikings have tried him at both guard and tackle thus far. If he can show that he's finally starting to get it together, he has a real chance to stick as a guy that could provide depth along the offensive line.
Bobby Felder, cornerback/punt returner, No. 31
The Vikings appear to be building a defensive backfield that has long been a sore spot into a strength, with rookie cornerback Xavier Rhodes coming in to complement starter Chris Cook and safety Harrison Smith. Felder could, potentially, be a piece of that puzzle, as he was markedly better in coverage against Buffalo than he was in a rough pre-season opener against Houston. Right now, veteran Marcus Sherels is listed as the Vikings' punt returner and is at the bottom of the depth chart at the cornerback spot. Felder has shown some explosiveness in the punt return game, and if he can continue to show improvement at corner, he may push Sherels off the roster.
The 49ers have plenty of similar players to track. Last week, I mentioned B.J. Daniels, MarQueis Gray and Darryl Morris. Daniels and Gray made an impact, while Morris did not get a defensive snap. I thought I'd throw out three different players for this Sunday.
Lawrence Okoye, defensive lineman, No. 78
The British import has only played a handful of snaps in each game, and it is very obvious he is still learning basic football technique. There is almost no chance he makes the team's 53-man roster, but I have to think the 49ers will do everything in their power to get him on their practice squad. He looks the part of a football player, but his inexperience quickly stands out. It's interesting to observe because so few players make this kind of jump. As the coaching staff, and Okoye himself have said, he's simply aspiring to be a bad football player right now.
Chuck Jacobs, wide receiver, No. 1
The 49ers have an extensive competition for playing time at wide receiver, and this undrafted free agent is unlikely to land a spot on the 53-man roster. However, in back-to-back fourth quarter appearances this preseason, Jacobs has looked very solid. If he clears waivers, he seems like a lock to land on the practice squad.
B.J. Daniels, quarterback, No. 5
OK, I cheated and included Daniels for a second straight week. After getting a running back snap and mostly special teams work in Week 1, Daniels came on in the fourth quarter against the Chiefs and led the team to a game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter. It has to be taken in the context of preseason fourth quarter, but he made some great throws, and generally looked incredibly competent. Given that Colt McCoy and Scott Tolzien have struggled, and the fact that the 49ers signed Seneca Wallace, many fans are salivating at the potential of Daniels as the team's backup. We don't really know when he'll appear in the game, but he is worth a watch.