Mike Martz isn't bringing the "Greatest Show on Turf" to San Francisco, but you can expect to see quite a few passing plays tomorrow night against the Raiders. After all, the most important evaluation will be of the quarterbacks and you can't evaluate a quarterback unless he throws the ball. "There's going to be a little bit more of the passing early on just to get a look," Mike Nolan said.
Nolan said yesterday that J.T. O'Sullivan would start against the Raiders because, unlike Alex Smith and Shaun Hill, he hasn't seen O'Sullivan in an in-game situation. But O'Sullivan played extensively in Martz's system last year in Detroit and actually started the third preseason game for the Lions. Hasn't Nolan watched those tapes? He has, he said, but that doesn't mean he has a true feel of how O'Sullivan handles a game. "It's kind of like being in the press box vs. being on the field," Nolan said. "You can see the emotion that goes on during a game. And you can see how guys respond to stressful situations. You don't get that in the box and you don't get that on TV."
As for Alex Smith, this will be the first time since his rookie season he has started a game on the sideline when he was healthy. Smith said today the key was not to get upset about the situation but rather to take advantage of the repetitions he will get starting in the second quarter. Smith said the three quarterbacks were given the same explanation Wednesday Nolan gave the media - that O'Sullivan was starting because Nolan hadn't seen him in a game. Asked if there has been any assurance he would start a future preseason game, Smith said, "I have no idea. I haven't been told anything."
Nolan said that the following players would not play tomorrow night: running back Michael Robinson, guard David Baas, safety Lewis Baker, safety Mark Roman and receivers Ashley Lelie and Bryant Johnson. Receiver Isaac Bruce will be a game-time decision, meaning the starting wideouts could be Josh Morgan and Arnaz Battle. Frank Gore will start the game, but don't expect him to play all that much.
With Roman out, Michael Lewis will wear the radio receiver when the first-team defense is in the game. Lewis is one of a handful of players who, barring injury, never leaves the game on defense. Lewis said that Roman usually would be the guy who wears it.
Rookie QB Kyle Wright got his first extensive repetitions of training camp when he ran the scout-team offense. That is, Wright was giving his best JaMarcus Russell impersonation.
-- Matt Barrows