One of the questions I'm asked most often involves the 49ers' two first-round draft picks: Will Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati play in Week 1? I wonder if the answer is 'yes and no.' During spring drills, neither were technically starters. The first-string left guard was David Baas while Adam Snyder was at right tackle. But the rookies typically substituted for Baas and Snyder beginning with the third play of any session, which gave them A.) extra repetitions and B.) familiarity with the first-team offensive line.
There is little question that Davis and Iupati will be starters at some point this season, but I wonder if the 49ers won't continue to sprinkle them into the starting offensive line early on. That's what happened last year when the 49ers acquired Tony Pashos just before the season. He rotated with Snyder at right tackle early on (Snyder was the early-season starter) before taking over the starting job in Week 7. (Pashos broke his shoulder in that game and went on IR).
Another thing to consider is the team's early-season schedule. The first game of the season is in Seattle, the loudest stadium in the league and a house of horrors for 49ers offensive linemen in the past (see: Sept. 2008). That might be a hard place for Davis especially to make his first NFL start. The third game of the season is in Arrowhead Stadium, another venue famous for its noise.
What do you think? Should the 49ers throw their rookies into the deep end or should they be eased in? Good arguments for both ...
-- Matt Barrows