The Niners and Raiders each played respectively in their preseason game at Candlestick last weekend, as both of their first units saw their most extensive playing time of the preseason thus far. Now they prepare for their final tuneup of the preseason Thursday night as the Niners host the Chargers and the Raiders host the Seahawks.
I didn't have a chance to respond to last weekends Niners/Raiders game yet, and although I don't want to get into that too much, there are a few things I wanted discuss regarding that game (mostly on the Niners front). Not only did Alex Smith save his best outing for his final tuneup (9-15, 115 yards and 1 TD), he once again did it without his top-2 receiving threats in the lineup. Second-year wideout Michael Crabtree, and All-Pro tight-end Vernon Davis (who actually got into a verbal confrontation this week in practice) were each unavailable, but should make at least an appearance in Thursday night's finale. A couple of guys who did make their 2010 preseason debut were running backs Frank Gore and Brian Westbrook and each looked mighty impressive, albeit briefly. Gore ran 2 times for 58 yards, including a 49-yard scamper on his first carry of 2010 game action. Westbrook looked pretty darn good as well, breaking off a 17-yard run, but only had 2 carries himself, and didn't get any looks in the passing game. I can't wait until the opener to see exactly what Singletary and Jimmy Raye have in store for the Gore-Westbrook duo. I've heard rumblings of using them together in the backfield at times, and I think that would really give this offense a whole new dynamic.
The Raiders, who have had a surprisingly solid preseason, looked well themselves for much of this weekends game. Jason Campbell was 6-8 for 93 yards before a Patrick Willis sack knocked him out of the game in the 2nd quarter. It shortened Campbell's day, and probably ended his preseason, but the Raiders QB1 should be in the clear for the September 12th opener. Campbell's injury immediately started rumors of the Raiders potentially going after Matt Lienhart as insurance for Campbell, but that rumor was never confirmed by any legit source and doesn't appear to have any legs. I also don't see Lienhart making a lot of sense for this Raider team right now. I think a good veteran QB who can hold the fort for a few years like Campbell is really a good fit. Lienhart would be entering a less-than-ideal passing situation and very well could end up being J-Russ #2. Not saying Leinhart won't end up being a decent NFL QB, I just think he's going to need to be surrounded by some talent in order to get his career kick-started and give himself confidence. The Raiders actually don't have a horrible QB situation right now and aren't necessarily desperate for another project.