The third preseason game is often referred to as the "dress rehearsal" for the regular season. Reason being, each team's starters usually play the entire first half in what will likely be their final game action until Week 1.
Kyle Shanahan and Jimmy Garoppolo both buy into that philosophy. But the idea of a dress rehearsal goes beyond the game itself. Shanahan and the San Francisco 49ers are treating this entire week as if it were the regular season. From the meeting schedule, to the practice times and everything in between, these days leading up to the 49ers third exhibition game against the Indianapolis Colts are setting the tone for the team's in-season routine.
"I think it's very important that players, coaches, everyone – we are creatures of habit, and preseason we're all over the place," Shanahan said. "But, you want them to get into that routine to where all seven days are all kind of Groundhog Day over and over. So, you want them to know what they're going to expect Week 1."
Added Garoppolo: "Do I buy into it? Yeah, I think it's good for us. The routine is obviously different than training camp. So, to get used to that and get our minds thinking that way, I think it's good."
Shanahan confirmed that the team's starters on both sides of the football are expected to play the entire first half. The 49ers head coach hopes to see improvements on last week's performance against the Houston Texans. Despite Garoppolo's 136 passing yards and one touchdown in Houston, Shanahan was critical of the starting offense in its two drives.
Garoppolo completed all seven of his pass attempts on third and fourth down, but some of those completions masked a few miscues on early downs. Penalties and an interception that bounced off of Dante Pettis' hands factored into Shanahan's frustration as well.
"We weren't very efficient," Shanahan said. "When you have your opportunities, it takes one weak link to mess up a good look. Those were some of the things I think I was frustrated with last night. I know we had some decent results with the starters and stuff, but I think there were some opportunities that we should have done better on and shouldn't have been in some of those third down situations."
The 49ers quarterback shared his coach's sentiment.
"There were just sloppy things at times," Garoppolo said. "There were some good things that we took out of the game, but we hold ourselves to a high standard. We are trying to be perfect on everything, and I think it's good to have that mindset."
Part of establishing a strong culture is setting a strong set of standards and expectations. Saturday's contest against the Colts is an opportunity to take another step forward as the regular season approaches.
"There are plenty of things for us to improve on," Garoppolo said. "First, we've got to go through a good week here. I think it's good that we're starting to do a little game planning and put things together and see how the walk-throughs tie into the practice, which ties into the game. It's all working together."