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Raiders vs 49ers: Las Vegas will be challenged on Sunday

San Francisco’s starters will play in preseason finale

NFL: Oakland Raiders at San Francisco 49ers
George Kittle
Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

The first two preseason games have gone well for the Las Vegas Raiders.

Both sides of the ball have performed well for the Raiders, who beat the Seattle Seahawks 20-7 on Aug. 14 and beat the Los Angeles Rams 17-16 last Saturday night. But let’s face it, the preseason has been an exercise in getting backups and roster-bubble players work.

The vast majority of the Raiders’ starters have not yet played. A projected 17 starters didn’t play at home against Seattle and a projected 18 starters sat out the game against the Rams. Both Seattle and Los Angeles took the same approach as Raiders’ coach Jon Gruden did. Very few key players for the Seahawks and Rams faced the Raiders.

That is changing for Sunday’s preseason finale at the San Francisco 49ers for Gruden’s team. Monday, San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters all of his starters will play against the Raiders. Most of the team’s starters have sat out the first two games of the preseason for the 49ers.

It will be interesting to see how Gruden approaches this game. Honestly, I don’t think Shanahan’s plan to play some starters will affect Gruden’s thinking. At least, it shouldn’t.

Gruden was asked about his Week 3 preseason plan after the Rams’ game and he was fairly vague about it. We may learn what Gruden will plan to do later in the week.

Either way, the best work of the preseason was the two days of scrimmaging with the Rams last week, when all the Las Vegas starters got plenty of work.