Exhibition opener worth watching

Every year the NFL sends a memo to its 32-member teams reminding them that people are actually paying to watch the preseason games. And every summer, 32 teams understandably ignore the plea to give substantial playing time to their starters.

Ooops. I’ll bet my boss is not happy with me right now. For years and years, it’s been The Press Democrat’s style to refer to the preseason as “exhibition games.”

 

The exhibition season is dreadfully boring and meaningless. The outcomes are decided, mostly, by players who will soon be unemployed.

 

It’s a little different when there’s a quarterback competition, though. Most folks with the 49ers envision Alex Smith as a better long-term option than Shaun Hill. But the onus is on Smith during the exhibition season to win the job from Hill.

 

In that sense, the first exhibition game, Aug. 14, at Candlestick against the Broncos will be significant.

 

Question: vote 4 PABLO!! As for the niners There has been a whole lot of hype among fans around this first preseason game vs Nolan’s D in Denver. Was there a similar buzz amongst the players & coaches? (David D.)

 

Answer: OK, OK, I’ll vote for Kung Fu Panda.

 

There has not been a lot of hype among the players and coaches . . . well, with the exception of former Broncos cornerback Dre’ Bly, whom was released after Josh McDaniels was named coach.

 

Oh, I’m looking forward to that,” Bly said last month. “Normally, for first preseason games for me, there hasn’t been many snaps, but however many snaps I get, I’m going to be licking my chops, because anytime you leave a former team, you look forward to competing.”

 

As far as the Mike Nolan factor, I do not think it’s a big deal at all. Well . . . here’s one of those elements of the game that people will watch particularly close:

 

When the 49ers played the Packers early in the exhibition season last year, there was some talk around the league that the 49ers did more defensive game-planning than what’s usually expected in one of those games. The conspiracy theorists reasoned that Nolan and the 49ers wanted to go to great lengths to ensure Rodgers did not come to Candlestick and have a good day as the Packers’ starter.

 

Rodgers completed 9 of 16 passes for 58 yards and was sacked four times.

 

Were the 49ers guilty of such a practice? I do not know, but if I were in the same position . . . you better believe I would’ve been throwing the kitchen sink at Rodgers.

 

Whether it was true or not, you better believe the radar will be up on Aug. 14 to see what kind of defensive schemes the Broncos employ against Alex Smith and the 49ers.

 

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