Now that we’ve had time to look over the 2014 preseason schedule for the San Francisco 49ers, let’s take a look at five key observations for the upcoming games.
READ: 49ers Announce 2014 Preseason Opponents
1. AFC Battle Royal
The 49ers will face four AFC opponents in the preseason: Baltimore, Denver, San Diego and Houston. The AFC West clubs, Denver and San Diego, will also play San Francisco in the regular season. The Broncos will host the 49ers; the Chargers will visit Levi’s® Stadium.
San Francisco has faced three AFC opponents and one NFC opponent in Jim Harbaugh’s previous three years as 49ers head coach.
2. You Stay Classy, San Diego
The all-important third preseason game on the calendar features a matchup of 2013 playoff teams. The Chargers will face the 49ers for a 28th consecutive year in the preseason. San Francisco holds a 22-20 advantage in the series, including four straight victories over San Diego.
This preseason, however, figures to be a different contest between both sides. Typically the Chargers-49ers game is held in Week 4 of the preseason. That’s when key NFL veterans are typically given the night off to allow coaches and front office personnel to evaluate players fighting for final roster spots. The Chargers elected to sit star quarterback Philip Rivers and tight end Antonio Gates against the 49ers last preseason. It surely won’t be that way in 2014.
Harbaugh enjoys his family time in the offseason. He’ll also get a dose of it in the preseason when the 49ers visit the Baltimore Ravens to open the preseason calendar. John Harbaugh’s Ravens will be a formidable opponent for the 49ers. The game will be a rematch of Super Bowl XLVII and
4. Houston's New Star
Assuming the Houston Texans make the No. 1 overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft, the 49ers will wrap up the preseason against the top draft prospect. Houston could always find a trade partner, but in all likelihood, the 49ers will face a well-known draft prospect.
Could it be South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney chasing after 49ers quarterbacks? Or could it be Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel looking to complete passes against San Francisco’s defense? Or is it going to be somebody else?
Only time will tell.
5. Next Breakthrough Player
The preseason is the perfect stage for young players to step up and earn a job in the NFL. Need proof? Look no further than 49ers long snapper
The undrafted rookie used the preseason to demonstrate his accuracy as a snapper and ability to handle the pressure of working with respected veterans like
Who will be the next unheralded player to use the preseason to his advantage?
We’ll know by the end of August.