NFL Nation: Three things: Oakland-San Francisco 2011

Three things: 49ers-Raiders

August, 20, 2011
8/20/11
12:21
PM ET
Three things to watch for in the San Francisco 49ers' preseason game against the Oakland Raiders on Saturday night at 8 p.m. ET:

1. Progress on offense. I was among those cutting the 49ers some slack offensively following their rough outing against New Orleans in the preseason opener. They were one week into practicing with newly signed players, including quarterback Alex Smith. The Saints threw quite a few blitzes at them to make life more difficult, especially for an offense so reliant upon timing. It's reasonable to expect at least some progress against the Raiders. The 49ers should have quick passes built into their offense to beat pressure. Smith hasn't been the most accurate passer over the years, though. I'll be watching to see how accurately he delivers some of the quick-slant throws that will be a staple of the offense under coach Jim Harbaugh. Let's also watch to see whether Smith can get the ball to Braylon Edwards downfield.

2. More Aldon Smith. The 49ers' rookie outside linebacker was the most impressive NFC West first-round draft choice during preseason openers. That won't necessarily mean much for the long term, but those casting Smith as a developmental player have seen preliminary indications Smith will provide immediate contributions as well. The Raiders gave up only two sacks in their opener against Arizona, none on starting quarterback Jason Campbell. Smith had five tackles, one sack and a forced fumble against the Saints, a good start.

3. Right guard Chilo Rachal. I know, I know. Few things in life generate as much excitement and fulfillment as watching an offensive guard slog through a preseason game. But with Harbaugh recently singling out Rachal as one of the players enjoying a strong camp, I wondered to what degree there was a self-fulfilling element to the coach's comments. There is some evidence Rachal has made progress. He reported to camp about 20-25 pounds lighter than his playing weight last season, significant given the lack of player oversight during the lockout. I was among those last season who thought the 49ers would have benefited from a more experienced, steadier player lined up next to rookie right tackle Anthony Davis. Can Rachal help stabilize his side of the line?

Three things: Raiders vs. 49ers

August, 20, 2011
8/20/11
12:00
PM ET
Three things to watch for in Oakland’s preseason game at San Francisco on Saturday night. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. ET:

1. Denarius Moore show: Let’s see more of this kid. He’s exciting. The Raiders’ receiving crew has injuries and there are opportunities here. Let’s see if the fifth-round pick from Tennessee can help when the lights turn on in September. The training-camp star had a fine game last week. Let’s see him get more chances to see what he can do.

2. Find the end zone: The Raiders’ offense moved the ball well last week against Arizona. But it scored just one touchdown and converted four field goals, including two short ones. This is the time to work on things. I’d like to see the Raiders try to punch the ball in the end zone instead of opting for field goals.

3. Cut down penalties: Oakland has long been one of the most penalized teams in the league. Preventing them has been a point of emphasis for new coach Hue Jackson. Oakland had 10 penalties against Arizona. That’s too much. I’m sure Jackson will blow a gasket if his team reaches double-digit penalties in this game.

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