- Mike Sando, NFL Insider
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Three things to watch for Thursday night in the San Francisco 49ers' final exhibition game, this one at home against San Diego (10 p.m. ET):
1. Tolzien's time. A year ago, quarterback Scott Tolzien played for San Diego against San Francisco in the teams' exhibition finale. He completed 16 of 23 passes for 226 yards with one touchdown, one interception and five sacks. The Chargers cut him. Now with the 49ers, Tolzien appears to have a good chance at emerging as the 49ers' third quarterback over Josh Johnson. How he plays against his former team could matter, however.
2. Aldon Smith's return. The 49ers' leading pass-rusher is expected back after a hip injury suffered against Minnesota sidelined him beginning Aug. 10. Smith had six unassisted tackles, 2.5 sacks and four quarterback hits against the Chargers in the 2011 exhibition finale. He has less to prove after a 14-sack rookie season. This game should give him a chance to work on timing and prove the hip isn't a factor.
3. Dixon's opportunity. Running back/fullback Anthony Dixon has responded favorably to added competition. This game gives him an opportunity to put an exclamation point on his case to win a roster spot. NFL teams must reduce to 53 players Friday.