For long time readers (or at least anybody who were around last season), you probably noticed a lack of detailed preview posts about today's game. Once we get to the regular season we'll have injury updates for both teams. We'll have in depth breakdowns of unit versus unit. We'll have some individual matchups to preview. However, as described earlier today, preseason games are not so simple to preview. In the regular season we can compare the 49ers first team offense and defense to the opponents' without worrying about how good the second stringers are (barring injuries of course).
However, I still wanted to take a look at some of the unit matchups going into tonight's game. The matchups will be essential in assessing who is stepping up and earning a spot on the 53-man roster.
Our Raiders blog, Silver and Black Pride, had a preview of the matchups a couple days ago. Needless to say, I found some amusement in their predictions.
49ers run offense vs. Raiders run defense
They gave the edge to the Raiders. If Gore only plays a series or two I can understand why the Raiders might have the edge. However, for the 49ers, this is an opportunity for the offensive line to make some plays and open up some running lanes. I'd expect some DeShaun Foster followed by a heavy dose of Thomas Clayton. The Raiders were pretty awful against the run last season, so we'll see what kind of improvements they can manage.
49ers pass offense vs. Raiders pass defense
They called this one even in large part due to the players who will not play, or at least play very little. I'd love to see Asomugha and Hall on the corners but I'm not expecting much of that. The Raiders had a very solid pass defense last season, although part of that can be attributed to the fact that teams were running out the clock much of the time against their #32 rush defense. Still, this will be the biggest test of the day.
Raiders run offense vs. 49ers run defense
They gave the edge to the Raiders and dared to blaspheme: "McFadden matched up well against pro bowl linebacker Pat Willis." I'm sorry, but NOBODY matches up well with Patrick Willis (I'd imagine Bamm Bamm doesn't like being called Pat either). I do think the Raiders bring a very solid rushing attack behind McFadden, Bush and Fargas. The 49ers will have more athleticism with the addition of Justin Smith and the return of Manny Lawson. I actually think this battle will be the most fun to watch.
Raiders pass offense vs. 49ers pass defense
They gave the 49ers the edge here, and that will depend in part on the pass rush. The 49ers have a very solid secondary, and have some solid depth in said secondary. However, an equally (if not more) important part of the pass defense is the pass rush. We pissed and moaned last season about the lack of a pass rush. Now we get our first crack at that rush. Like the QB results mentioned last post, it might be a little difficult to judge the performance of the pass rush. The Raiders offensive line is less than stellar and they have some young running backs being asked to block as well.
Any prediction would be pretty useless. When you are dealing with an entire 80-man roster playing, you add too many variables to the equation. I'll say 49ers pull out the win behind a big game from Thomas Clayton and a very solid defensive effort. In the end, I just wanna see some passing game fireworks.