So the end result meant absolutely nothing and it returned with minimal fanfare, but for those who salivate over a pigskin getting tossed around and grown men annihilating each other, the return of the NFL was enough to appease all for a few more weeks.
In what was a mostly meaningless 10-6 preseason loss to the Denver Broncos on Thursday night at Candlestick Park, fans who haven’t gotten over the images of the last time the San Francisco 49ers were in action – a loss in last season’s Super Bowl – consider it a step in the right direction.
Real. Live. Football.
The competition was naturally not lost on the players, either.
First-round draft pick Eric Reid, a safety who is expected to play an important role in the secondary after the departure of Dashon Goldson, was second on the team with six tackles and crushed Broncos tight end Virgil Green with his first tackle as an NFL player.
“We’re football players so it’s exciting to hit somebody else,” Reid told the San Francisco Chronicle. “And to really hit somebody else. I had fun. That’s the best part about it.”
All eyes, naturally, were all on third-year phenom Colin Kaepernick, who for the first time in his short career will enter the season as the team’s undisputed No. 1 starter.
Kaepernick saw minimal time but showed little signs of rust. He was a perfect 4-for-4 passing for 38 yards and had one rush for six yards.
For long-suffering Raiders fans, the start of a new season is always means to search for optimism. And with their current history of bumbling seasons, they’ll grasp for any and all of it.
Preseason or not, a win is a win for the Raiders and they’ll take it in the form of a 19-17 triumph over the visiting Dallas Cowboys.
The first glimpses of Matt Flynn showed signs of promise, too. Since drafting JaMarcus Russell with the first overall pick of the 2007 draft, Oakland has been on a downward spiral of failed experiments at the quarterback position.
The hope (prayer) is that Flynn, the onetime understudy of Aaron Rodgers, can lead the Raiders back to respectability.
So far, so good.
Like Kaepernick, Flynn saw minimal time on the field. But in his short stint, Flynn was coolly efficient, completing four of his five passing attempts for 37 yards.
His backup and apparent competition Tarrelle Pryor, the former prolific Ohio State signal-caller, saw plenty of action but was mostly erratic.
He showed off his well-documented athleticism in rushing for 31 yards on three attempts, but also threw a drive-killing ill-advised interception when forcing a throw into coverage.
The Raiders next visit the New Orleans Saints on Friday.
So the once-unstoppable Oakland Athletics have recently shown signs of life as their clutch on the AL West lead has turned into a dogfight with the Texas Rangers, but manager Bob Melvin hit a noteworthy milestone when the A’s defeated the Toronto Blue Jays 6-4 on Sunday.
With the win, Melvin won his 700th career as a manager. He’s also managed the Seattle Mariners and Arizona Diamondbacks.