What to watch in 49ers' exhibition game

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Among the things I'll want to watch Saturday night when the 49ers face the Cowboys in their third exhibition game:

  • Barry Sims at right tackle. He struggled there last season and seemed to be nearing the end after 10 years in the league and 127 regular-season starts. Can the 34-year-old Sims project as more than a stopgap player? Rookie Alex Boone figures to get extensive work off the bench, a good opportunity for him to gain experience.

  • The collective pass rush. I've singled out Parys Haralson and Manny Lawson as players to watch previously during preseason. In this game, I want to chart how many times pressure affects the Cowboys' passing game. Tony Romo is better than most at keeping his eyes downfield when he scrambles, so pressure might not affect him always.

  • Shawntae Spencer. The 2004 second-round choice is pushing Dre Bly and Tarell Brown for the starting job at right cornerback.

  • Frank and Beans. Frank Gore isn't getting much work during these games, but Glen Coffee leads the NFL in rushing during preseason. Both are fun to watch. Not to worry, Matt Barrows. Let the record show you were first to secure naming rights for the 49ers' 1-2 running punch.

  • Damon Huard and Nate Davis. The 49ers could always consider keeping four quarterbacks, but three is the preferred number. Huard is an experienced backup with a 15-12 record as a starter. Davis is a project and a player the 49ers would like to develop. Which one should the 49ers keep?

  • Vernon Davis. Can the 49ers afford to let him release downfield as a receiver given the situation at right tackle? The offense they ran last season would not allow it because the quarterback took deeper drops and receivers needed more time to work downfield.

NFL Network is replaying this game Sunday at 4 p.m. ET.