The San Francisco 49ers face off against the San Diego Chargers on Sunday, in the first of two times these teams will meet in 2014. I took a few minutes to chat with John Gennaro from Bolts from the Blue, and he provided us with some details about the Chargers.
Niners Nation: What kind of snaps can we expect from the starters? Will any starters not play at all?
Bolts from the Blue: This is THE game for Mike McCoy and the San Diego Chargers. Since the game is at 1pm on a Sunday, the team is basically treating this as if it's a regular season game. This is the one where they will formulate a gameplan, and starters will at least play part of the first quarter as well as the entire first half.
If there are any starters that don't play, it will be due to an injury. Manti Te'o and Sean Lissemore have already been ruled out. However, you will see roughly the same team on Sunday that you'll see when these two teams face off in the regular season.
NN: What are the expectations of Chargers fans heading into this season?
BFTB: Depends on which Chargers fan you talk to. Most would be happy to see the team play consistently well for the entire season. Last year's team started okay, went 1-4 in the middle of the season, and then finished quite strong. If they can be more consistent through the season, they can hopefully find a way to get back to the playoffs (despite their schedule being much tougher this year).
NN: Is there a second year player the team is looking to emerge?
BFTB: Keenan Allen, who was robbed of the Offensive ROY Award last season, dropped from the first round to the third round because of concerns about a recent knee surgery. Think about that. The guy was not 100% last year and was still one of the best WRs in the league during his rookie season. It shouldn't be a surprise if he's even better this year.
Steve Williams, who many in the Bay Area will remember from his time at Cal, spent his entire rookie season on IR. He's back, he's healthy, and he's looked good in camp. Somehow, after being terrible last year, the San Diego secondary is deep and talented this year. However, Williams will still get his chances.
NN: How are the rookies coming along? Which players are generating early excitement?
BFTB: Chris Watt, an offensive guard the team grabbed in the 3rd round, will probably start the season as the team's starting RG. That's more a result of Watt being a polished player that fits the Chargers' blocking scheme than an indictment of the San Diego offensive line. It looks like he's going to have a great season and a long career if he stays healthy.
Outside of that, there's not a lot. Jerry Attaochu, Ryan Carrethers, Marion Grice, and Tevin Reese were all drafted as raw prospects. They've all shown flashes of their ability, but none of them have been very consistent. We haven't seen much from Jason Verrett, the team's 1st round pick, because he's been recovering from shoulder surgery. Sunday's game will be his first in an NFL uniform.
NN: Who are a couple deep roster guys 49ers fans should keep an eye on in the third and fourth quarter?
BFTB: All of the raw rookies that I just mentioned are worth watching just to see how they're progressing and if they'll be able to contribute in any meaningful way this year. Reese could potentially be cut (if only because they staunchly refuse to use him on kickoff returns) and Marion Grice is battling with UDFA Branden Oliver to be the team's fourth RB.
I think Alden Darby is an interesting guy to watch. The team was really high on the rookie SS out of Arizona State when camp started, and he'll likely get a bunch of snaps against the 49ers because Jahleel Addae is dealing with a hamstring injury.
Cordarro Law (OLB) and Dontrelle Inman (WR) have potential to be big stories this year, as they were both signed from the CFL this offseason. Inman has likely done enough to make the roster, but Law is still trying to make a play or have a game that the coaches will remember.