The yearly NFL Battle of the Bay is here, and though it is of less significance than the baseball variety due to it being preseason, both the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders have a lot to work at and show this week. Week three if the preseason is generally where the starters play the longest, and both teams have yet to even pick starters in some areas, so week two has that added significance where playing time for any player is totally up in the air, even "guaranteed" starters.
For the 49ers, they're re-shuffling their offensive line after the beating it took in week one against the New Orleans Saints. Currently, the starters are Joe Staley, Mike Iupati, Adam Snyder, Chilo Rachal and Anthony Davis, but as many as three new players could be in the starting role, or at least worked in with other starters. Jonathan Goodwin figures to be the guy at center, while Snyder will be looking for the right\ guard position and Alex Boone is trying his hardest to unseat either Davis or Staley.
They'll spend plenty of time playing the offensive line starters, looking for the Raiders to run some blitzes like the Saints did - the 49ers quarterbacks are now target practice for the remainder of the preseason after the Saints went crazy with the blitzes in week one. Look for the starters to get time with Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick both under center.
Beyond that, they have all kinds of holes elsewhere, the quarterback battle is heating up and the backup running back position will be a point of interest. On defense, the defensive backfield is still almost entirely undecided, as the new guys get acclimated and Dashon Goldson gets out there.
For the Raiders, they'll look for continuity out of their starters and progression from the rookies. The starting defense in week one made Kevin Kolb very uncomfortable, pressuring him and getting him off balance, and against San Francisco, that will be a focal point of the game. That defensive line was dominant, and if they can look dominant in all four games this preseason, then they'll have a world of confidence.
Jason Campbell and the starting offense converted a field goal on their only drive in week one, and they'll look to make that six points this time around. Campbell looked solid, but not the best of the Raiders quarterbacks, so he'll need to assert his place on the team sooner rather than later.
Most important for the Raiders will be for the rookies to step up and play well. With some great players departing in free agency and Oakland solely working to retain big names like Stanford Routt and Kamerion Wimbley, the team absolutely needs the influx of young talent to pan out. In week one, it was all about guys like David Ausberry, Denarius Moore and DeMarcus Van Dyke. All three of them were great in week one, and if they're great in week two, they can solidify themselves some solid work with the team in 2011.
Both teams hardly have their starting depth charts set, and both teams need to further evaluate their roster as a whole. Playing time for each of these guys will be all over the place in this uncertain preseason. Keep an eye on the guys above and see if you're surprised about their playing time.