The preseason schedule usually sees starters play a series, maybe two in the first game, a quarter or so in the second game, and then the full first half in the third game. In the San Francisco 49ers first preseason game, the basic core of starters played one series, with some going longer simply because of the numbers involved.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan told the media on Thursday that his starters will probably play a little more against the Houston Texans, but he, “wouldn’t expect much more.” For the offensive starters, that would likely still take them through the end of the first quarter. The offensive starters played one series of nine snaps against Dallas. The way things played out, four more snaps would have gotten them a full quarter of play. My guess is we see two full series from the core starters, with the rest going into a third and maybe a fourth series in the second quarter.
Texans head coach Bill O’Brien was asked how much he expected to play his starters on Saturday, and he did not see much change coming from the first game.
“I think it would be about the same. It would be about the same. We just ran about 150 plays in two days in 100-degree heat and those guys you’re talking about, most of those guys got probably 50 reps in two days. So, that’s just really good work.”
The teams got in important work the past two days, but I had not really thought about it in terms of impacting snaps on Saturday. The practices were not exactly game conditions, but they offered a chance to assess players in potentially more competitive situations. And even beyond just the level of competition, it was new competition that was not familiar with what you do. That adds a level of competition you don’t otherwise see in normal training camp practices.
Once the 49ers starters do depart, you can point to almost every position and find someone to watch once the starters depart. At running back, it’s basically all of them. At wide receiver, Trent Taylor is healthy again, so one has to wonder where Richie James fits on the depth chart on Saturday. On defense, the inside linebacker options are competing for a spot during Reuben Foster’s two-game suspension. In the backfield, D.J. Reed will likely remain in the starting line up as the slot corner, but fellow rookie DBs Tarvarius Moore and Tarvarus McFadden will look to push up the depth chart.
Who are you looking forward to seeing once the starters leave the field?