SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – Thursday marks the final dress rehearsal for both the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders, as the two teams finish up the NFL preseason.

Starters do not normally play much, if at all, during the final preseason game. Many coaches don’t want to risk injury before the start of the regular season. John Madden told the KCBS Morning Crew, it’s also important for backups to get a chance to get some reps during live game action.

“As far as guys on the bubble and who is going to make the team and who is not going to make the team, unless there are some injuries that would change that, they pretty much know who is going to be the 53 guys,” Coach Madden said. “The big thing – it really is the last opportunity to get these guys that are going to make the team, but when the regular season starts, they’re going to be backups and they won’t play until they’re needed. And they become the next man up.”

Madden said many backup offensive lineman and quarterbacks don’t get practice reps during the regular season, because those go to the starters. So the final preseason game gives them a chance to get in the work that they might miss in practices during the regular season.

For the 49ers, Madden said fans have reason to be concerned with the way the offense has performed in the preseason. “The offensive line hasn’t looked very good. They really haven’t. But I think part of that is, they haven’t run the ball,” he said. “They’re not giving you a heavy dose of Frank Gore and Kaepernick hasn’t taken off with the ball. So when you add that to it, that’s a totally different mixture.” Madden said the offensive line is definitely not a strength right now, but he expects their play to improve during the regular season, with more of a running threat coming from quarterback Colin Kaepernick. He said he’s not expecting starters to play much, if at all, during Thursday’s game against the Houston Texans.

On the other side of the Bay, the Raiders will be hosting the Seattle Seahawks Thursday night. Coach Madden said fans can expect to see plenty of rookie quarterback Derek Carr, who missed the team’s third preseason game. “You assume right now that Derek Carr needs a lot of reps and Matt Schaub doesn’t. There’s going to be a time that he’s going to play. The question is when, and the answer to when is when he’s ready. When he’s ready, he’ll be the starter.”

Madden said he has a hard time believing the Raiders won’t play Carr at some point this season.


(Listen to the John Madden segment live weekday mornings at 8:15 on KCBS All News 740 AM/106.9 FM.)


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