NFL teams rarely get their starters extensive work in the preseason opener, and it was no different for the San Francisco 49ers last week against the Kansas City Chiefs. Most of the primary starters on both sides of the ball played approximately two series worth of snaps. For the offense that meant seven snaps, for the defense that meant 14 snaps. Some starters got a few more snaps, and some got a few less, but two series was how it worked out.
Kyle Shanahan met with the media on Thursday, and he said the plan is for approximately 20 snaps on Saturday against the Denver Broncos. He thinks it will take them into the second quarter. A lot of will depend on drives as well. The 49ers offense had two short drives in the preseason opener, but if the offense puts together a pair of nine- or ten-play drives on Saturday, maybe that is enough for Kyle Shanahan to see what he wants to see.
The third preseason game remains the dress rehearsal game, while the fourth preseason game is all about just getting through it healthy. This year that strategy is a little bit easier to implement. The NFL changed the rule so now there is no cut to 75 players two days before that final preseason game. Instead, teams will be able to maintain their 90-man roster into the final game. That means even fewer starters will be playing in that game than we normally see.