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* The Houston Texans will be without defensive superstars J.J. Watt (back) and Jadeveon Clowney (knee) for Sunday’s matchup with the 49ers. As expected, neither player made the trip to San Francisco.
* 49ers quarterback Blaine Gabbert appears to have the edge over Colin Kaepernick for the role of Chip Kelly’s starting QB – but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves and narrow our focus to Sunday night. Kaepernick missed a pair of practices this week with a sore shoulder and it would be shocking if he saw any time on the field Sunday against the Texans. The Niners are saying all of the right things about the shoulder and called Thursday a “planned rest day”. The problem with that rhetoric is that Kaepernick only took five snaps at Friday’s practice – and all five were run plays. If Kaep does play Sunday night, it won’t be for very long and he’ll likely just hand the ball off or use his legs to move the football.
* According to reports, Texans’ quarterback Brock Osweiler and Pro Bowl wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins have developed some nice chemistry in the passing game. Osweiler has been singing the praises of “Hop” and singled out his sharp route-running following Friday’s joint workout against the Niners. And speaking of Texans’ wide receivers, first-round pick Will Fuller has the Houston coaching staff drooling in camp after showing better than expected hands, improved route running and “take-your-breath away” speed.
* Texans’ linebacker Brian Peters is expected to see plenty of time of the field in Sunday’s contest as he adjusts to his new position at inside linebacker. Reps, reps, and more reps are the key to the switch.
* Quarterback Tom Savage looks to be the second man out of the gate for Houston on Sunday. Osweiler may play as much as the entire opening quarter, Savage will round out the first half (and perhaps a bit of the second half) and Brandon Weeden will get plenty of time against the 49ers’ third string defense.
* Niners’ starting defensive tackle Arik Armstead (shoulder) has been a bit banged up recently so Chip Kelly may use Sunday as a useful test for first-round pick DeForest Buckner against the Texan’s top offensive unit. Buckner has had a great camp and the 49ers top brass are excited to see if he can step it up in a game setting.
* 49ers’ starting wide receiver Quinton Patton was dinged up at Friday’s joint practice with the Texans and may not get on the field Sunday as a precaution. That would mean everybody moves up one spot on the depth chart and Jerome Simpson would likely join Bruce Ellington and Torrey Smith on the first unit.