SANTA CLARA – The 49ers this week settled one competition for a starting job, but another position remains a four-player race for one opening.
Right guard Jordan Devey snuck in through the back door and was named the starter for the opening of the regular season despite playing just nine snaps in the 49ers’ third exhibition game -- when typically the starters are set and have their longest playing time of the preseason.
On defense, four cornerbacks remain in the picture for the starting job opposite of Tramaine Brock.
Brock is expected to be ready to start Monday, Sept. 14, against the Minnesota Vikings. He is currently nursing a slight hamstring strain.
On the other side, Kenneth Acker, Keith Reaser, Dontae Johnson and veteran Shareece Wright remain in the mix for the starting role. Each player has started at least one of the 49ers’ first three exhibition games.
Acker was particularly impressive in the 49ers’ third exhibition game, as he intercepted Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning in the end zone on a pass intended for Demaryius Thomas. Acker also broke up a Manning quick slant on third down at the goal line.
Acker’s exceptional play on the diving interception was nearly overshadowed by his reaction. Upon standing up in the end zone, Acker tossed the ball behind him. In college when a player with the ball hits the ground, the play is dead. In the NFL, a player must be taken to the ground by an opponent or touched while he is down or the play remains alive. Teammate Antoine Bethea alertly pursued the loose ball, which was ruled to have gone out the back of the end zone for a touchback.
When did Acker realize he made a mistake?
"It’s pretty obvious on the film,” Acker said. “You could see my eyes kind of light up a little bit. . . I got it from everybody. A couple jokes, here and there. I got pretty tough skin, so it’s something that I know it shouldn’t have happened, and it won’t any more. But I laugh about it now.”
Acker believes he has put himself in serious position to win a starting job. But he also believes the others have made strong cases, too.
“I feel like all of us have,” Acker said. “Like me, personally, I’m doing everything I can to show the coaches that I can play that role. But if I don’t end up in that position, I feel like I showed I can play on special teams. I can play other positions. It’s something where I just want to be on the field. I’m not really stressing it to the point where I can’t control that type of thing.”
Acker was considered a bubble player a year ago as a rookie. After a strong preseason, he was placed on injured reserve due to a stress fracture in his foot. This summer, there appears to be little doubt he will make the 53-man roster.
“In my mind, I’m here,” Acker said. “If God puts me somewhere else, of course, I’ll be fine with that. But, right now, I feel comfortable at the 49ers’ position and I’m feeling like it’s somewhere I can grow and I’m ready to play.”