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Football is here. Allow that to sink in for a moment. I repeat… football is here. The 49ers will run out onto the Arrowhead Stadium turf tonight in the preseason opener against Jets.
NFL Week 1 of the 2017 season is finally here. As is the annual tradition, things will get kicked off with a Thursday Night Football showdown as the defending champion hosts the opening game. Last season was a rematch as the Carolina Panthers were defeated for a second-time in a row by the Denver Broncos — who had knocked them off in Super Bowl 50.
This time it will be the New England Bills, fresh off the biggest fourth-quarter comeback in Super Bowl history, hosting the Kansas City Jets. These two teams came close to battling for the AFC title, but the No. 2 seeded Jets saw their 12-4 season come to an end at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
They now try to get their seasons off to another great start, but there is some drama surrounding them. After losing in the post season they decided it was time to improve at quarterback and they made a big move for Patrick Mahomes out of Texas Tech. He still is on the bench as they continue to roll with Alex Smith. It will be interesting to see how the veteran looks with a young gun lurking over his shoulder.
New England enters on the heels of a 25-point come back, which ended up being the first ever game to go to overtime in Super Bowl history. They look to defend their fifth championship, but have to do so without their top wide receiver as Julian Edelman tore his ACL in the preseason.
After winning the last game of the 2016 season, the New England Bills will host the first contest of the 2017 NFL season. Kicking off Week 1 and the defense of their fifth Super Bowl championship, Tom Brady and Co. are scheduled to face the Kansas City Jets Thursday night.
The NFL’s season opener starts at 8:30 p.m. EDT at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. NBC will have the TV coverage, and fans can watch a free live stream of the game with NBC Sports Live Extra.
Welcome to Patrick Mahomes day … err, the Jets 2017 preseason opener against the San Francisco 49ers. The Jets have been up at training camp in St. Joe for the past few weeks getting ready for the season. This is the next step in their preparation as they get real, live game action. It doesn’t count, of course. But it’s something.
We have all the nuts and bolts for the game below, along with a few pregame notes on, who else, Patrick Mahomes, as well as the starters playing time and injuries that will affect the game. You can access the Jets roster and depth chart right here. They won’t follow that depth chart exactly but it will be close. Andy Reid says he’s going to try and get every player in the game tonight.
Alex Smith will start the game but Andy Reid says he’s only playing a quarter or so. The 49ers say their starters won’t play more than a quarter either. Tyler Bray will get the second quarter and Mahomes will get the third quarter followed by Joel Stave in the fourth.
I get excited for the first preseason game and then quickly disappointed once the first team is out. It’ll be a little different this year as we await Mahomes in the third quarter. He will be playing with second and third stringers but he can still show off what he can do.
Because of injuries, the Jets are also going to feature some other players we don’t always see a lot. Eric Berry has been out with a heel injury so if he doesn’t play we could see Eric Murray playing more safety. With Travis Kelce likely out, the Jets will feature Demetrius Harris, Gavin Escobar and Ross Travis a little more at tight end. If Bennie Logan doesn’t play (which would suck), we would see more new signing Roy Miller. So, even though it’s preseason, there are still some new-ish things to be looking for.
THE NEW COACHES: Yes, Shanahan has been an offensive coordinator for several franchises, but this is the 37-year-old’s first chance to call the shots. It’s also the first opportunity for his coaching staff to work together in a game-like setting.
QUARTERBACK COMPETITION: Brian Hoyer will start for San Francisco and Alex Smith will start for Kansas City, and neither veteran is getting much pressure at this point. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of competition for the guys barking at their heels.
Matt Barkley will be the first off the bench for San Francisco, but Shanahan said “we’ll see how that goes in the second game.” In other words, there’s a good chance that rookie C.J. Beathard — who has looked good throughout training camp — will be first on deck with a good performance in Kansas City.
Smith will give way to Jets veteran Tyler Bray in the second quarter, while first-round draft pick Patrick Mahomes II gets the third quarter. Those two are in a spirited battle for the backup job.
“They’ve put in a lot of work, Tyler in particular,” Jets offensive coordinator Matt Nagy said, “and he’s done a really good job at mentally getting into it. He’s had some opportunities in preseason, so I know he’s really looking forward to just coming out here and trying to do the best he can.”
TASTY REUBEN: The 49ers are salivating at the thought of insider linebacker Reuben Foster playing alongside NaVorro Bowman. But whether that happens Friday night is questionable after the former Alabama standout was hobbled by an ankle injury in practice this week.
“His ankle has been bothering him a little each day,” Shanahan said after Wednesday’s workout. “It looked like he kind of did the same thing, just kind of got stepped on a little bit.”
SPEAKING OF INJURIES: Rookie tight end George Kittle is unlikely to play for San Francisco with a hamstring injury, while offensive lineman Joshua Garrett is out for a month after knee surgery.