Don’t be mistaken –
It’s probably a close second to the games themselves.
In fact, the 49ers starting left tackle takes tremendous pride while watching young offensive linemen get meaningful snaps in preseason games. With Staley and the starters playing into the second quarter of both 49ers exhibition contests of 2011, the 6-foot-5, 315-pound tackle has remained focused on the game action.
He especially enjoyed watching reserve linemen pave the way for two second-half 49ers rushing touchdowns from running backs
Perhaps, Staley most enjoys watching his understudies celebrate success. Just like game film evaluation, the eye in the sky never tells a lie.
“He had a celebration in the end zone last week that was pretty ridiculous. Kilgore picked up Hunter with one hand and with the other hand he flexed his muscle. That was pretty funny.”
Though linemen like Staley were pleased with the offense’s improved performance last week against the Raiders, to a man, the group understands how Saturday’s upcoming home matchup with the Houston Texans serves a major importance. Typically, the third exhibition game is utilized as a dress rehearsal. Limited game-planning takes place and starters tend to play into the third quarter on both sides of the ball.
That’s a standard Jim Harbaugh plans to uphold.
“Historically, the third preseason game in the National Football League, is the game that you game plan like you would in the regular season,” the 49ers coach said. “(It’s) where you want to get them into two-minute drive situations, coming out after half, third down, short-yardage, goal line, backed up – as many situations as you possibly can, and traditionally that’s the way it’s been and that’s our approach.”
The dress rehearsal concept, however, doesn’t sit very well with Staley.
“As far as player preparation goes, every preseason is the same – they’re all dress rehearsals,” Staley said. “For every opportunity on the field, I don’t look at it any different. Whether I’m getting one play or 100 plays – it’s an opportunity to get better – that’s the mindset I take.”
For fellow members of the offense, improvements can be made in the form of finishing off drives. In New Orleans, the offense was constantly under siege with a barrage of blitzes. This past week, they handled pressure much better from Oakland, but struggled to put points on the board after two long first-quarter drives.
“We need touchdowns, not field goals,” wide receiver
According to Staley, the 49ers will do some limited game planning for the Texans. He also noted Houston’s 3-4 defensive scheme under new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips as a positive for the so-called season-opening rehearsal.
Having practiced against a 3-4 team of their own for the entire training camp, “We should be very familiar with the looks they give us,” Staley added.
Notes and Quotes
The 49ers traded second-year safety Taylor Mays for an undisclosed draft pick officially Tuesday, but Harbaugh made a point to commend the player. “We’ve got a lot of respect for Taylor,” Harbaugh said. “I’ve been around him for about three or four weeks now. I understand that he’s a good football player and I respect him as a person and he’s a hardworking guy out here. I think it’s a better fit for him in Cincinnati and I feel he feels the same thing.”
Harbaugh was also asked if he decided on a starting quarterback for the regular season home opener on Sept. 11, but in true close-to-the-vest fashion, Harbaugh told the media they’d have an answer before that first game.
Two-time Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year