The 49ers have two rookies starting on their offensive line. They also have their starting center, Eric Heitmann, who is a team captain and offensive line captain, out for the game with an injury. It will be those two rookies' first real NFL action in week one against the Seattle Seahawks.
Qwest Field is one of the most hostile stadiums to play in for veteran offensive linemen, let alone two rookies and a backup. It was a unit which made the odd mistake here and there in preseason, but largely looked more disciplined as time went on. Their first real test will come in the first game of the 2010 season.
Mike Iupati and Anthony Davis need to go into Sunday's game confident and concentrated. Joe Staley, Chilo Rachal and David Baas will be facing the test too, of course. The noise of the stadium is tough on veterans as well, and in week one, it can lead to quite a few false start penalties. The 49ers probably can't take very many of them, either.
Quarterback Alex Smith will look to show a lot of his doubters that he is a leader and deserves his new-found captaincy. The defense is a strong-point and will look to solidify the notion.
For the Seahawks, their roster is re-shuffled throughout its foundation and the verdict is out on basically every position. More skepticism and question marks linger for them than most every team, and it appears they could go either way. We'll have to see on Sunday. Check back soon for a full preview in the coming days.