San Francisco 49ers vs. Baltimore Ravens, Thursday 4:30 p.m. on KPIX 5

BALTIMORE, Md. (KPIX 5) — It’s pre-season football, so you’re not going to see anything that resembles a regular season game plan with the exception of the numbers on the player’s backs.   And if you’re looking for the majority of starters, they’ll be on the sidelines.

Still, Thursday’s 49ers-Ravens game will be the first chance to evaluate the 2014 draft class.  By all indications,  Jimmie Ward is a keeper.  The 49ers 30th overall pick in the draft has had an impressive camp and has a nose for the football.   He picked off Colin Kaepernick in his first practice although, when I asked him about it, he gave all credit to newcomer Chris Cook who tipped the ball in Wards direction.

Ward is listed at 5-11, and has battled the size question his entire career. In fact, he’s from Mobile, Alabama but every SEC team turned its back on him.  His dad sent out 200 tapes looking for one college, any college. Finally, he got a call from Northern Illinois and ended proving the other 199 teams wrong.  Ward wears number 25.

Chris Borland is listed at 5-11 as well, but that seems generous. He’s the 49ers third-round pick and he has one of the lowest centers of gravity on the team at 248 pounds.   The guy makes plays.  In Harbaugh terminology, “he’s a football player.”   At Wisconsin, he set the Big-10 record with 15 forced fumbles in his career, and he has displayed that kind of impactful play so far in camp.  Keep your eye on number 50.

Quinton Patton stood out among 49er rookies last season.  An explosive receiver whose promising rookie season was marred by a foot injury, costing him eight games.  The former 4th round pick is being singled out again by Jim Harbaugh for his work in camp.  While the 49ers have the deepest receiving corp during Harbaugh’s tenure, I still think Patton is a lock.  Patton wears number  11.

In the past three seasons, the 49ers have played more games than any team in the NFL.  Could it be a contributing reason for the teams’ injury-plagued summer camp?  Ian Williams remains out with a foot injury and incumbent starter Glenn Dorsey will be out until at least November.  Keep your eyes on number 92, Quinton Dial.  Then again, you can’t miss him.   At 6-5, 318, he’s not your prototypical, low-to-ground nose tackle.  But he’s the proverbial “next man up,” and the former fifth-round pick is going to get his chance.

Frank Gore isn’t going to play.  Natrually, the annual question of age is the summer camp topic when it comes to Gore.  If and when Father Time knocks on his door the 49ers hope Carlos Hyde is the next man up.  Hyde’s running style is reminding the coaches of, well, Frank Gore.   He’s similar to Gore in size at 6-0, 235, but the second round pick also has the same bruising running style as Gore.  With injuries to Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James, get ready for a heavy dose of number 28.    It might be interesting to see if Jim asks his brother John to send a few blitzes to test Carlos Hyde’s ability to pick them up.

There will be 190 players on the field, so I might have overlooked 80 or 90 guys to keep your eyes on.  Tell you what, I’ll be on the sidelines and keep an eye out for you.

See you during the game.

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