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How long will the offensive starters play on Thursday against the Cowboys?

When will Kyle Shanahan pull the plug on the first-team offense during the preseason opener?

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at San Francisco 49ers Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

220 days after QB Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers stepped off the field in the L.A. Coliseum, they’ll suit up for the preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday.

While preseason is more for evaluating the back-ups and third-string players, fans get the most excitement over seeing the starters take the field. One of the biggest questions coming into every preseason game is “How much will the starters play?”

During Tuesday’s press conference, reporters didn’t waste a second in probing Kyle Shanahan to see if he would drop any hints about Garoppolo’s playing time.

Reporter: “With the preseason, are you treating QB Jimmy Garoppolo like a regular starting quarterback because he’s learning the playbook?”

Shanahan: “We’ll treat him like what we’ve probably done more in the past. He’ll play somewhat into the first quarter. We’ll see how long the opening drive is. Usually, the second game you play guys a little more into the second quarter. Usually, the third game they play the whole first half and sometimes start the third quarter. Then, the fourth game they rarely play.”

Reporter: “Just to confirm, Jimmy will get a series on Thursday, at least?”

Shanahan: “Yes. Yeah, definitely.“

Against the Cowboys, the first-team offense will likely see only one series, before they get pulled for the evening. For reference, when the 49ers played the Chiefs in last year’s preseason opener, QB Brian Hoyer and the first-team offense stepped on the field for two series.

When Hoyer led the starters against the Chiefs, his first drive was a three-and-out that led to a Bradley Pinion punt. As a result, Shanahan wanted to give the starters more snaps on the field before taking them out of the game.

For Thursday’s matchup, my prediction is that Garoppolo and the starters will likely have a successful opening drive, which includes at least a few first downs, leading to Shanahan pulling the plug after one series. If fans are trying to watch the starters on offense, they better get in front of the TV immediately after kickoff.

How long do you guys think the starting offense will play on Thursday?