49ers-Raiders Matchup to Watch: San Francisco's defensive line vs. Oakland's rookies

Yesterday, we had discussion about the Raiders and their underrated defensive line versus the 49ers rookie offensive linemen. We had a good amount of votes in the poll and, as you can see, there's a pretty large majority (71% as I type this) in favor of our rookies handling the task to a degree which you could say they "won the battle." But as many people pointed out, these teams are rather similar.

Our defensive line is a bit more proven than theirs, to be sure. Justin Smith and Richard Seymour are pretty similar, though I'd give the slight edge to Smith as far as fitting into their respective system and utilizing that advantage to a better extent last season, but that's not the point here. The 49ers have a very strong defensive line that perhaps makes some of our other front seven (looking at you, Manny Lawson and Parys Haralson) look a bit better than they are. It just so happens that the Raiders have a couple of rookies on the offensive line, as well.

It also just so happens that these players either start or play relatively early. Bruce Campbell and Jared Veldheer are both trying to build on good performances (with an emphasis on Veldheer) but they'll be facing their toughest competition yet when it comes to the 49ers line, even without Aubrayo Franklin (who we can assume isn't playing despite signing his contract on gameday), the 49ers have several good players throughout the depth of the line. Jump.

One can argue that the Bears presented the Raiders with their biggest challenge, but I'm going to say that a full half of Justin Smith is enough to change that. I'm also thinking that Ricky Jean Francois is looking pretty darn good so far through two weeks and will command double teams and be a handful. Isaac Sopoaga isn't particularly great, but he's good enough to make offensive linemen hate what they do. Ray McDonald is trouble for anyone.

Veldheer is looking to find his place on the Oakland offensive line. Campbell is just looking to play well and secure his spot in the lineup. The rookies aren't the only players on the o-line looking to play well, of course - the line as a whole is very unproven and possibly the weakest unit on the entire team. Still, there's some big, sturdy players there, and from the 49ers perspective, I'll be watching closely for how much penetration and pressure we can get off of the rookies and veterans alike.

I'm actually going to call a couple sacks on both sides of this game.

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