Hey now, football is back! The San Francisco 49ers are in their second week of training camp, but real on-field football action returns on Thursday with the NFL’s annual Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio. The 49ers don’t kick off their preseason until next week, but in the meantime, the Baltimore Ravens and Chicago Bears square off tonight at 5:00 p.m. PT.
This is not going to be the best football in the world, and given that it’s the first preseason game of the year, it might be some of the worst we see this year. Even Thursday Night Football is not this bad, but it’s the first football of the year, and that’s a starting point.
It will be easy to tune out the game, and more than like I’ll catch some of the beginning, and then move on my way from there. But, if you are looking for a reason to watch the game, here are a few.
1. It’s football
We all are hooked on football, and this is better than nothing. I’m not sure if this is better or worse than the Pro Bowl, although I’m inclined to think better since it marks the return of the football season and not the end of another season. And given the kinds of ratings any NFL games do, I’m guessing the Hall of Fame Game will have plenty of viewers. We will only see limited snaps from some of the starters, but it’s better than nothing, I suppose.
2. The 49ers play the Bears this season
The 49ers host the Bears in Week 16 this season. They play the AFC West this year, so we won’t be seeing the Baltimore Ravens. We will see limited work from the starters, but I am curious what we see of Mitchell Trubisky. We won’t get to see the Bears 2018 first round pick, as Roquan Smith is in the midst of a holdout on his rookie deal.
But regardless, the second string players will be the ones to watch since some of them could surprise and secure a starting job. And with injuries always a possibility, at least one of these reserves will be getting a starting job somewhere down the line.
3. Waiver wire analysis
Even thought the 49ers don’t play Chicago until the end of the season and don’t play Baltimore at all, their rosters are of some interest to the 49ers (and 29 other teams). There are currently about 2,880 players on NFL rosters (90-man rosters x 32 teams). Everyone will cut down 53 players, putting nearly 1,200 players (minus vested veterans) on waivers for anybody to claim. The 49ers have the No. 9 spot in waiver priority, which means they get a shot at anybody the first eight teams pass on. The 49ers roster is better than it was a year ago, but John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan have been plenty active shaking up the team. I don’t expect a lot of waiver activity, but one or two moves later this month would not surprise me.
4. Did I mention, it’s real football?
Just in case you missed it the first time!
How to watch Hall of Fame Game
Who: Baltimore Ravens vs. Chicago Bears
Time: Thursday, Aug. 2, 5:00 p.m. PT
Place: Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, Canton, Ohio
Announcers: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth
Online: NBC Sports