For many teams with established starters at the most important positions, the preseason can be a boring matchup of players who won’t have much of an impact in the regular season. It’s doubtful that will be the case when the Houston Texans take on the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night.
San Francisco 49ers vs Houston Texans Live NFL, TV Broadcast
Houston spent big money in the offseason to upgrade the offense, but all the moves will be moot if Brock Osweiler doesn’t pan out like the Texans believe he will.
The former Denver Broncos protégé to Peyton Manning had a seemingly assured starting spot for the Super Bowl champions, but when the team was hesitant to open the pocketbooks, he decided to go elsewhere. Osweiler ended up taking a four-year, $72 million deal with the Texans, joining an offense that already featured DeAndre Hopkins and added speedy Will Fuller and Braxton Miller to the mix in the 2016 NFL Draft.
That retooled offense, along with Lamar Miller in the backfield and some new offensive linemen up front, makes for a dramatically different lineup for the Texans that will debut against the 49ers in primetime.
For San Francisco, it’s the first glimpse of what the Chip Kelly era will look in the Bay Area. Once the most coveted and sought-after coaches in the nation, the former Oregon offensive guru is working to redeem himself after the Philadelphia Eagles collapsed with Kelly at the reins.
But to turn around his reputation and re-stake his claim as one of the smartest offensive coaches in the NFL, he’ll have to find success with one of the two reclamation projects the 49ers have at quarterback.
Former Jacksonville Jaguars first-round bust Blaine Gabbert will start against the Texans on Sunday, but he hasn’t officially been named the starter for the regular season. A strong showing against Houston could do the trick, especially after Gabbert showed good things in his time as a starter during the 2015 regular season.
Colin Kaepernick, who once appeared to be the clear-cut starter of the future for the 49ers, has been dealing with “arm fatigue” in the week leading up to the preseason opener.
But defense could also steal the show for the 49ers after the team concentrated heavily on that side of the ball in the NFL Draft. The No. 7 overall pick, DeForest Buckner, is a 6’7, 291-pound tank of a defensive end who shouldn’t be hard to pick out in his first game in a 49ers uniform.
How to watch
When: 7 p.m. ET
Where: Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, Calif.
TV: NFL Network, ABC 13 (Houston), CBS 5 (San Francisco)
Announcers: John Sadak, Spencer Tillman (Texans); Bob Fitzgerald, Tim Ryan (49ers)
Odds: 49ers (-3)
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